Smart Living Challenge 2015: Team Brazil — Pilot

This article contains regards the developments of Smart Living Challenge Team Brazil and contains two parts. The first one talks about the challenge and the project while this second explains the pilot designed by the team.

The Pilot

The Pilot-Project was supposed to be the implementation inside the University City of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, as proposed by Smart Living Challenge in partnership with Fundo Verde. Fundão Island is where the biggest campus of the UFRJ is built. In 1965, due to high demands from inside the campus the University Prefecture was created and must manage environmental resources, urban engineering, urban mobility and safety among many other aspects.

University City of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The campus finds itself amidst the problematic of urban mobility because it has many Trip Generating Zones (university schools, hospital, firms and housing), even though there aren't enough entrances and exits on the island. Beside that, non-motorized transport and internal trips are discouraged by a dispersed setting of buildings.

According to information from Fundo Verde, the full range of open transport modalities accounts public buses, university buses (in-campus and inter-campus), minivans and cycleways. It’s very common for the companies to provide chattered buses for their staff. Moreover, many buildings have parking lots and there are also those under municipal management, both types are free of charge.

In 2009, the UFRJ approved a new Master Plan, which proposes strategies to be implemented until 2020. As means to reducing fossil fuel consumption, atmospheric emissions thus carbon emissions, it focus the efforts on human-powered and high density transport. Beside that, the plan tackles social integration as well as humanized, densified and diversified land use inside the University City.

The University City works as an autonomous and unique organization within the Rio de Janeiro city, including having its own town hall. Currently, 90 thousand people moves around on the island daily and, according to the UFRJ Master Plan, the forecast for 2016 is to increase to 109 thousand.

Through a survey conducted by the Fundo Verde, which interviewed about 10% of the population in the universe of Fundão Island, evidenced extensive use of cars and chattered buses. The inflows and outflow of people on campus is done mostly by public transport (50%), yet most of them is unsatisfied with the service (77%).

According to the research, most people use buses to get around, still most of them consider the quality of public transportation poor. Also, the amount of people that use internal buses is very close to that of those who would use bicycles should there be a bike sharing system.
Peak hours concentrarion, blue represents inflow and green outflow.

According to the survey, the rush hours occurs from 6 am to 10 am (inflow) and between 4 pm and 6 pm (outflow).

Several projects and studies are already being developed to improve mobility on Fundão Island. Projects involving bikes (bike share system and bike racks), electric shuttles and vans have been thought through. Studies of technical and economic feasibility for the implementation of others modes of transportation also exist.

Although there is a great effort by the University Town Hall to manage mobility issues, it lacks tools and staff to do so. There is no management of the demand for transportation and the measuring processes are all manual. Besides, communication is a big issue at the university and the majority of the community have no access to warnings about operational changes promoted by the town hall on campus.

In order to tackle information problems, an online and ubiquitous platform is proposed. It concentrates information about the University City and is a way of creating and working on a local identity. By gathering data through user activity and collaboration, it is possible to provide the proper information able to aid the creation of new tools and strategies for mobility inside the island. Also it gives realistic figures, that could help the development of academic research.

Also, the transparency of such data enables a more participative management of the campus. The island’s community can supervise administrative actions, taking on its portion of responsibility, creating a sense of belonging and, thus, encouraging their participation in island daily life, in a physical and online way, through collaboration in the system.

Information on mobility and land use accessible to anyone and everyone regarding the targeted area through the virtual platform. Accordingly to the nature of the information, they could be static or dynamic, thus be accessible in varied devices. Along with that, users are able to consult info according to their needs and can report critical events themselves. The functionalities designed for the island are shown below.

To the left, Location and information regarding every building on campus. To the right, Path calculation, with information about calories and carbon emission.
To the left: map of bike racks. To the right: map of bus stops.
To the left: information about buses’ routes and schedules. To the left: location and information (menu and prices) of restaurants.
To the left: critical events report. To the right: current location and crowdedness of buses.
To the left: ap of the (future) bike sharing system. To the right: map of the events to occur in the campus.

In regard to continuous planning, those responsible for it have access to pertinent information (users’ records and the activities undertaken by them as mentioned below) tracked from users’ flow throughout the platform. Thereby, it’s expected an analysis of the most transited areas, the most researched trajectories and the events of biggest interest. Likewise, as the time goes on and with greater access volume, this information will enable deeper analysis about evolutionary tendencies in users’ activities.

The feedback available from the platform regards:

  • Demography study with information about age, gender, place of living, work and study;
  • Figures on origin and destiny of users;
  • Occurrences reported;
  • Most searched routes;
  • Content popularity;
  • Demands for public transportation

The team believes that the platform shouldn't be a sole solution. Therefore four side projects, names “Satellite Projects” were thought through. Those would also aid the mobility issues on the island but wouldn't be part of the pilot

The Developments

After the 12 weeks of work the team was invited to the Embassy of Sweden in Brasília to present the project on September 4th in front of an audience that included government representatives, activists, journalists and professors. The receptivity was great and the involved parties were all very proud.

On September 15th the project was presented to two representatives of Fundo Verde. They received a printed copy of the project, in their own terms as requested, the budget to make it happen, the schedule and a printed copy of the Satellite Projects as well. On August 8th Fundo Verde positioned itself declaring they wouldn’t fund the Smart Living Challenge project for they mean to focus on energy instead of mobility.

The team has been looking for alternatives to go on with this, like startup programs. But it has been hard for it what was developed is more of a tool for a sustainable city development than a lucrative service to be explored in a startup model of business.

Team Brazil reflections on the work.

This article contains regards the developments of Smart Living Challenge Team Brazil and contains two parts. The first one talks about the challenge and the project while this second explains the pilot designed by the team.