Tiny, and smart
Unlikely as it sounds, Europe can boast a ‘living lab’ for urban innovation in Andorra. The tiny principality has been working with the MIT Media Lab’s City Science Initiative to prototype and test metro innovation, spawning such efforts as the Persuasive Electric Vehicle, an ultra-lightweight, three-wheel, shared-use autonomous vehicle running in bike lanes – Andorra, in fact, has nasty traffic problems, being without an airport or train service.
Plus there’s CityScope Andorra, a 3D augmented-reality platform for visualising complex urban data, which is currently being used for the redevelopment of a district in Andorra la Vella. Urban planners can test scenarios on the model, such as how many parks to include, the height of buildings, and whether to use only car-share services.
The TerMITes project employs sensors in schools in Andorra’s capital so students can measure energy consumption in their buildings and invent strategies to reduce it, while collecting data for CityScope.
“Urban innovation that is focused on human interaction must be tested in a real-world context,” says Kent Larson, director of the City Science Initiative, who heads up the projects. “Working in Andorra is a fantastic opportunity. In such a tiny country, we can work directly with the ministers, policy decisions can be made rapidly and efficiently, and we have access to mobile and energy data for the entire country to help us understand the complex behaviours of residents and tourists.”