Amphibious Sensor Network in New York City


This week Living Architecture Lab at Columbia University and the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University installed a complex network of sensors and mobile technology in New York City's water networks. The Amphibious Architecture project invites New Yorkers to explore their city from a different, more soggy, perspective. Straight from the source:

Amphibious Architecture submerges ubiquitous computing into the water—the substance that makes up 90% of the Earth’s inhabitable volume and envelops New York City but remains under-explored and under-engaged. Two networks of floating interactive tubes, installed at sites in the East River and the Bronx River, house a range of sensors below water and an array of lights above water. The sensors monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem. The lights respond to the sensors and create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment. An SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment.

Instead of treating the rivers with a “do-not-disturb” approach, the project encourages curiosity and engagement. Instead of treating the water as a reflective surface to mirror our own image and our own architecture, the project establishes a two-way interface between environments of land and water. In two different neighbourhoods of New York, the installation creates a dynamic and captivating layer of light above the surface of the river. It makes visible the invisible, mapping a new ecology of people, marine life, buildings, and public space and sparking public interest and discussion.

For more pictures, video and information on the Amphibious Architecture Project in New York City, click here.

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