The Civic Data Design Lab at MIT, in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Urbanism (MIT) and Philips Lighting, is working to answer those questions and more. The research group takes time to understand data, visualize it, and communicate the results to various audiences using design. In today’s digital age, data is more widely available, making space for tools grounded in new data sources. To corral and analyze this vast amount of data, the lab has created an interactive data mapping tool called the Atlas of Lighting.
The Atlas of Lighting works to comprehend the dynamics of urban life by allowing users to view both quantitative and qualitative data to improve the understanding of how cities function. While typically used by researchers to analyze socio-spatial processes, it has the potential to become an engagement tool for the public. When data is placed into the database, it can be accessed by citizens to address specific questions which may reveal new patterns and complexities within urban environments, specifically with regard to lighting and its relationship with social and economic conditions. Furthermore, companies like Philips can use these crowdsourced findings from the public can help to fine-tune its strategies.