Nomad x City Development

Propagating Information for City Development Projects

Nomad is an open source protocol to discover, publish, and remix live data streams from anyone, anywhere. Built on IPFS, a distributed network, Nomad is engineered as universal infrastructure: to be open, scalable, and durable. Anyone can create a new node, subscribe to existing streams, and publish a stream without signing up for any proprietary service.
To learn more about Nomad, visit getnomad.io.

The following narrative is a short depiction how Nomad might leverage real-time data to uncover insights about an urban locale and identify valuable development opportunities.


City Supervisor Rebecca Knope has been having a rough morning. The long bus ride from the Richmond district is always an uncomfortable experience. She gets her usual cup of coffee before a walking into City Hall. She thinks about all of the zoning and development issues to address today, as her assistant greets her and lets her know that there is a contractor waiting for her to talk about undeveloped properties on the waterfront. Rebecca can’t help but think about how many more visits she gets regarding renovation and development since the city started publishing their data on Nomad nodes on the Nomad discovery platform.

Greeting the young developer, Rebecca opens up her laptop and looks up the new Cityview Management software, built to collate data off of Nomad atomic nodes in cities.

“Nice to meet you Jessica, so what brings you in today?” Rebecca says as she offers out her hand.

“Nice to meet you as well Supervisor Knope. I am here to discuss Piers 27 and 28 along the Embarcadero.Based off of data from Cityview, we’ve concluded that there is profound opportunity to renovate and renew these properties for commercial and office use. I have brought a draft proposal today that outlines what we would like to do with the space and what retrofits we can make to make the space eligible for re-zoning.”

Run the pen and see how layered data can map onto a city

“What exactly has brought you to this investment conclusion? The data here is promising but I would like to hear your reasoning.”

Jessica swiftly opens a data projection file in Cityview and turns the computer so Rebecca can see it. “I’m glad you asked. Based off of foot traffic data collected on city sensors on street lamps and purchase data around the area in local shops, there is already a massive opportunity for commercial space. The ferry building is a good precedent for this. On top of this, most of the purchases are made by cards associated with zip codes out of state, meaning that many of these pedestrians are tourists.” Jessica spoke quickly as she scrolled through the data.

“That only explains part of your proposal though, why would there be any reason for office space in these lots? After all most business won’t invest into placing assets over water like this…” Rebecca pointed out.

Jessica quickly navigated to different part of Cityview, showing different types of businesses in the area. “Great point! But the city occupancy node shows some interesting things about how current use of piers works. This data paired with some research on what businesses actually operate on the piers shows that business with lots of human assets that move in and out of the space and grow quickly would be happy to lease out office space here. In fact there are already interested clients! A number of startups vying for space, but the design firm IDEO is willing to move in as soon as the space is renovated, I think they want more room for a studio of theirs, something called the CoLab. Based on the real time data and the demographics of space usage in the surrounding area I am sure we can find business that are perfectly happy to occupy a pier.”

Rebecca looked over the proposal. “Well, you have been very thorough. Are you just looking at these two properties today?” she asked. Jessica looked over her Cityview application and considered the question. “Well to be honest since the data went live last month we have begun building a number of proposals. Your real time crime data has given us a lot of insight into how the Tenderloin is changing and what kinds of developments might thrive, and we might be interested in bringing you a proposal about a couple of properties near Van Ness Street.” Jessica explained.

Rebecca looked through a mandate she recently received from the mayor as she listened. “Well, I am excited to hear you are interested in investing more in the city. Still, I feel I should inform you that we are going start using the City view Neighborhood data to make some more granular requirements for multi-use buildings. If you want to develop in the Tenderloin on the east side of Van Ness, you will have to include zoned space for homeless relief and urban farming. Based of the reduced crime rates, we know it’s becoming desirable, but foot traffic sensors show that there are still a lot of underserved people. Based off of our purchase data from stores in the area, there is very little affordable fresh food for these people. If you want to build there, you are going to have to help us solve this food desert.”

Jessica was taking notes as Rebecca spoke. “Well, thank you very much for telling me. I don’t think this will greatly impact our decision and we are excited to revitalize this part of San Francisco. On the matter of the piers… will you support our proposal and hand it to the Mayor?”

Rebecca smiled, “Get me a final draft and I’d be happy to lend my support to it.”

As Rebecca walked the developer to the door she thought about how the city might change because of the real-time information now available to everyone.

San Francisco has long been a city of change, but with Cityview, powered by Nomad, the Supervisors and Mayor can start to specifically direct that change, in ways valuable to all.


IDEO CoLab is developing Nomad, a peer-to-peer communication system between devices, people and organizations. You can follow our progress on github.

Written in collaboration by Brett Killoran, Adam Lukasik, Eric Chan & William Felker