When the crowd of daily commuters becomes connected through communications technologies, it can transform into a smart mob. Future urban metro systems will be able to take advantage of intelligent group behavior to better get people where they need to go. The MIT Mobile Experience Lab envisioned what these developments make possible for the Parisian Metro system.
Wirelessly connected commuters provide new opportunities to rethink how an urban metro system can best function. In the Metro 2.0 workshop, the MIT Mobile Experience Lab re-imagined the Parisian Metro as a complex system, interacting with both the city and millions of daily passengers. Starting with the idea that through the use communication technologies, crowds may transform into smart communities, the lab worked with RATP the French Transportation Authority to creatively re-imagine the Metro as an information and communication ecosystem.
In addition to examining the power of technology to change crowd behavior, the Metro 2.0 project addressed a number of questions that arise with such a radical shift. How can connections between the city and the transportation system become more fluid and transparent? What passenger behaviors and activities will emerge? How is the flow of people traveling in the metro connected with the urban territory and with the local business? Which are the new economical models that characterize the activities of passengers? What kinds of services and forms of exchange become possible with increased ad-hoc connectivity?
To address these questions, the lab found it helpful to consider four different, though connected, spaces. In the Sociable Space, the metro might use games to promote interaction among passengers. As a Cultural Space, the metro can serve as a micro-performance stage. With collective and individual knowledge, combined with customized information, the metro can serve as a Learning Space. Finally, because travelers have everyday needs, the metro is also a Commercial Space.