I'm currently in Chicago for a couple of days to deliver my public workshop. Thanks to the recommendation of Tom Schenk Jr. I had chance to quickly see a really nice free exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Foundation called 'Chicago: City of big data'.

Through interactive displays, recreated sections of Chicago and views into your own personal data, Chicago: City of Big Data reveals the potential of urban data and offers a new perspective on Chicago and cities everywhere.


The exhibition aims to reveal how Chicago has been influenced by the concept of data as a 21st century design material through a range of displays:

Architects, planners, engineers and citizens increasingly use data to understand urban issues and spark design innovation. This explosion of digital information, known as “Big Data,” encompasses everything from data collected by environmental sensors to messages on social media. This new exhibition reveals the potential of urban data and offers a new perspective on Chicago and cities everywhere. Visitors can explore interactive displays, recreated sections of the city and get unique views into your own personal data.

The 'Data Trail' is an interactive touch screen installation that tracks and presents analysis on how individuals contribute to the volume of data generated every day.

The 'Chicago Dashboard', created by IBM's City Forward initiative provides real-time updates on a variety of indicators and aspects of big city life.


On the back wall of the exhibition is a huge display showing a colour-coded categorisation of the age of the city, something we've seen a lot of across the field in the last 18 months.




The main exhibit is the 'Chicago Model', apparently the only accurate and up-to-date depiction of Chicago’s downtown.



Sadly not displayed whilst I was there, the model is enhanced with a light installation that projects different coloured lights onto the model to visualise different sets of data. The installation was designed and developed buy DCBolt Productions.


This next image is taken from a really good in-depth write-up on Venture Beat.


The final item of note was an exhibit about the work of Sophonisba Breckinridge, Edith Abbott and Florence Kelley. They pioneered a technique using colour-coded maps to help better understand and demonstrate the poor housing and overcrowded conditions in parts of the city.