February 16, 2018


The Future of Connection | Designing the Future

Gigabit tech, big data, and the rise of ride-share are a few forces at work
on the communication and transportation horizon



In the next five to ten years, says Susan Shaheen, codirector of the Institute of Transportation Studies’ Transportation Sustainability Research Center, “advanced technologies and big data will enable us to better understand and manage our transportation ecosystems,” particularly automation and car- and ride-sharing tech. “This will enable us to provide more equitable, affordable, safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation.”

“This will take careful planning to ensure that individuals are not left behind due to the digital and income divide,” she says.

Shaheen and research engineer Elliot Martin recently completed an impact study on car2go. They found that car-sharing services helped improve urban mobility, resulted in fewer privately owned vehicles on the road, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In the works, Shaheen says: an analysis of Uber and Lyft and a survey of Zipcar use on college campuses and a study of how smartphone apps influence travel decisions. Safety, congestion management, and environmental impact will also be assessed.—Bob Warburton

ljx160902web140connect1Online Activism

In the years to come, says Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), staying connected will be the easy part. We have a huge glut of stuff to pay attention to,” he says, “and we’ve gained no more capability to pay attention than we did previously. That’s the space that I work in.”

His work involves a daily mass-text analysis of some 50,000 news sources, determining what’s being talked about and how. Zuckerman focuses much of his research on “online activism.”

“Most of the rules we follow are not laws, they’re social norms. In many cases in social change, you need to change a norm to make a change.” This is accomplished in two phases, Zuckerman adds, by “setting an agenda” and “framing” that agenda with various attitudes and arguments.—BW

ljx160902web140readsslug2Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization
by Parag Khanna (Random, Apr. 2016)

Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation
by Edward Humes (Harper, Apr. 2016)

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly (Viking, Jun. 2016)

Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman
(MIT, Oct. 2016)

ljx160902web140connect2Remotely Together

International musicians from the OneBeat program will visit Chattanooga this fall. Their itinerary includes the 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library (CPL) downtown branch. Thanks to cutting-edge, ultra-high-speed connectivity used by CPL, students with the Miami, FL–based New World Symphony, 800 miles away, will accompany them in nearly real time.

The library employs a low latency audiovisual streaming system, better known as LoLa. LoLa works with advanced Internet2 gigabit technology to transmit sound and pictures while removing most of the delay in transmission, or latency. It allows musicians hundreds of miles apart (a previous test connected students on opposite coasts) to perform as if they were in the same room.

After a handful of smaller tests, CPL chose international Make Music Day in June to launch its first public splash. Its partner was the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, VT, where a harmonica instructor taught a crowd at CPL, part of a lengthy LoLa-enabled program.

“Music is where latency is most critical,” says Mary Barnett, CPL’s public relations and special projects coordinator. Advanced LoLa software is being used almost exclusively by music conservatories: CPL is the only library currently rated by tech experts as an “operational LoLa node.”

After the upcoming performance, CPL will hold a roundtable of funders, educators, musicians, and entrepreneurs, Barnett says, to consider “how the intersection of music, interconnectivity, and gigabit technology can foster opportunities in education and community building.”—BW

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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