The Spirit of the City: Capturing Network-Generated Data for Better Cities


The corporate smart-city rhetoric is about efficiency, predictability, and security. “You’ll get to work on time, no queue when you go shopping, and you are safe because of CCTV cameras around you”. All these things make a city acceptable, but they don’t make a city great. is a global group of like-minded people who are passionate about building technologies whose focus is to give a good life to city dwellers; because the future of the city is, first and foremost, about people.

We go beyond the creation of a smart city by using digital data to measure intangible aspects of the urban space: the spirit of the city. We will show how this acquired knowledge can be leveraged to build new tools for both citizens and municipalities. Can we rethink existing mapping tools? Is it possible to capture smellscapes of entire cities and celebrate good odors? Can you measure a city’s cultural capital?

We will see how a creative use of network-generated data can tackle hitherto unanswered research questions.

Luca Maria Aiello

Luca Maria Aiello
Senior Research Scientist, Nokia Bell Labs

Luca Maria Aiello is a Senior Research Scientist in the Social Dynamics team at Nokia Bell Labs Cambridge, UK and Research Fellow of the ISI Foundation in Torino, Italy. Formerly, he has been a Research Scientist at Yahoo Labs for almost 5 years. He conducts interdisciplinary research in network science, computational social science, and urban informatics. His work has been covered by hundreds of news articles published by news outlets worldwide including Wired, WSJ, and BBC. He is a founding member of, a global network of scientist with the goal of giving a good life to city dwellers.


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