Monday 13 October 2014

A sense of new academic term

New academic term of UCL officially started on 22nd September 2014. Thousands of new students walk around the campus, and they fill Bloomsbury area with vibrant energy. Dr. Adam Dennett begun his GI Systems and Science class for new post-graduate students of CASA with welcoming slide on 1st October. In this year, CASA opened two new post-graduate courses: MSc SmartCities and Urban Analytics and MRes Smart Cities. Therefore, he has developed a lot of the course materials and structure for the students during last summer days.


On the same day, when CASA held SHOW AND TELL, which is a traditional CASA event to introduce each other, I apparently realised that the new term is just started! Most members of the lab came up and introduced themselves at this inaugural meeting.  


Emer Coleman’s seminar was followed on 7th October under the title of “Open Data and the City: Looking back and Looking Forward”. She explained open data as a way of engagement and empowerment and how citizen can be benefited and can participate in making better urban environment. Several good cases, such as Hello Bristol, were mentioned.

After the presentation, many questions were emerging from the audience. Transparency, security, effectiveness and so on. However, I was uncomfortable when she criticised, with some sentences from Adam Greenfield’s “Against the smart city”, big corporations that IBM and Cisco have been pushing smart city idea for money rather than people or better society. I could not catch the difference between the big brands, which get profit by providing new city systems and solutions, and her company, which get profit as well by providing efficient transport solution and application. There might be a matter of size.

These adventures would be enough to feel a sense of the new term. However, UCL email was unusually hacked on 9th October. All UCL students got 3000 emails (including me) with bello. It was a big issues not only in the campus but also in the UK as The Independentannounced. Steven Gray, a specialist of large datasets at CASA, analysed what has happened with his Big Data Toolkit and posted it on his blog.