chapter  6
16 Pages

Built environment, big data and the new public life

WithSilvio Carta

This chapter illustrates how the new technologies and big data-driven systems are permeating throughout individuals’ private and public spheres, bringing significant changes in the way they perceive their public life. The analysis is based on the impact of the physical environment on individuals which, through extensive use of digital technologies and ubiquitous software, is also changing their behaviour in space. While Chapter 5 provides a detailed description of the spatial qualities of the new public space, this chapter examines the public life of individuals and how they respond to the discrete reality put forward by computers.

Overall, the Discrete City offers a multifaceted view of the contemporary urban environment and public space, dominated by big data and pervasive computing. The computer’s lens, the designer’s perspective, and the individual’s point of view are combined into a holistic description whereby the public space acquires a new set of characteristics adhering to the digital, granular and discrete logic of computers. At the end of the chapter, a description of the public realms that emerge from the new environment is provided. In this, the influence of the omni-presence of software is emphasised and the discrete nature of public life, as underpinned by computers, is described in a built environment whose extent is in continuous evolution between the digital and the physical dimensions.