Class 1: Mobility on Demand Systems, September 3

o   Introductions: Your background, your skills, your passions, and why you are taking this class.


o   Networked Cities and Real-time sensing

o   Cybernetic Systems, Control Theory, Feedback loops

o   Mobility on Demand Systems

o   Unbalancing – rebalancing

o   Problems of centralized methods of control

o   Driverless automobiles and rebalancing algorithms

o   Goals of course

o   Course Structure & Roadmap

o   Previous versions and projects of this class

Assignment 1

Do the readings and briefly discuss in the course blog 2 of the following topics:

o   In ME++ Mitchell talks about “electronic nervous systems” of intelligent urban environments. Discuss an example of an intelligent urban system you are familiar with and discuss the elements of the feedback loop, how its form of governance works, and who are its stakeholders (goals, decision makers, evaluators, etc.).

o   Compare different models of sharing that exist (or you can think of) in MoD systems (e.g. vehicle sharing, parking sharing, ride sharing, etc.) What operation/control problems do they have? What would the ideal form of sharing be for you and how would its resources be controlled?

o   Read MIT’s report on driverless automobiles (ignore all technical stuff and focus on results). Suppose that in few years we have driverless automobiles that can be used in shared schemes without the need for redistribution. Is this a plausible solution/future for you?

o   Read both articles of DeMaio that illustrate the history, future and challenges of bike sharing. Do you think in the future we will need better centralized control, more self-governance (incentives for users), or a combination of the two?

Prepare a proposal for your mid-term project (don’t worry if it is not detailed). What aspect of NYC Citi Bike system you want to study?


o   Read chapters 3, 8, 9 from Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century

o   Read chapters 1, 2, & Epilogue from ME++

o   Briefly skim: Connected Sustainable Cities.



Class 2: Data Scraping & Visualization, September 10

Assignment 1 and mid-term project proposal presentations


o   Parsing, visualizing, and animating CSV, TSV, JSON files in Processing

o   Live feeds, and web scraping (CRON Tasks)

o   Maps, latitude, longitude coordinates

o   Area charts, bar charts, and heat maps

o   Networks

o   D3, Plot.ly


Visualization tutorial in Processing

Assignment 2

Create a visualization in Processing (or D3 if you are familiar with) of NYC Citi Bike focus on an aspect of the data that you want to reveal. Suggestions:

o   Go to http://www.citibikenyc.com/system-data, download and visualize a dataset of your choice.

o   Use NYC Citi Bike’s JSON stations live feed (http://www.citibikenyc.com/stations/json) and make a real-time visualization of Citi Bike’s stations’ inventories.

Post your visualizations in the course blog before class next week


Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, Vadim Ogievetsky. A Tour through the Visualization Zoo. Link: http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=1805128



Leaflet and D3 combined: http://bost.ocks.org/mike/leaflet/





Class 3: Complex Systems Modeling and Simulation, September 17

Assignment 2 presentations


o   Structure and dynamics of systems

o   System Dynamics, delays & stock-flow models

o   Information and material networks: the “sneakernet”

o   Urban dynamics

o   How to use simulation models – what questions to address

o   Causal loop diagrams

o   Dynamic and static equilibrium of systems

o   Diffusion processes

o   Modeling distributions and trip patterns with stock-flow models

o   Trip time, repositioning rate

o   Discussion on MoD systems


o   Multi-agent systems & differences with stock-flow models

o   Agents, breeds, and behaviors


o   Vensim tutorial

Assignment 3

Expand the provided template model in Vensim (or develop a new one) and discuss the following questions: what factors limit repositioning rate? What is the maximum service rate? What affects unbalancing? What would be the optimal configuration of fleet size, parking size, and trucks? What solutions might improve the situation and what problems would they bring? Discuss your answers in the course blog and prepare to present your model next week in class.


Develop a new (or expand the provided) Agent-based simulation model of a bike sharing system using NetLogo addressing the same questions as above.

Post your findings in the blog and prepare to discuss them next week


Forrester, Jay Wright. Principles of Systems. Pegasus Communications, 1968

Resnick, Mitchel. Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds. A Bradford Book, 1997

Sterman, John. Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World. McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2000. (Read Ch 3,4,5,6,7, & 8)


Optional tutorial (after class, during office hours)

o   NetLogo tutorial



Class 4: Decision-making and Economics of MoD Systems, September 24

Assignment 3 presentations


o   Cost of time

o   Cost of trips

o   Cost of Substitutes and opportunity cost

o   Cost of rebalancing and redistribution efficiency

o   Budget and Users’ decision-making in MoD systems

o   Operator’s decision-making in MoD systems

o   Economic equilibrium and limits of economic efficiency of MoD systems (centralized methods)

o   Social welfare and theoretical efficiency of MoD Systems

Assignment 4

Revise your simulation model from assignment 3 so that now the cost of rebalancing equals revenues from ridership. How does this constraint affects the performance of your model? Discuss in the blog your view on the limitations of centralized control in MoD systems. How can technology or information change those limits?





Class 5: Mid-term project presentations & feedback, October 1

Assignment 5

Develop final project proposals (due next week before class)

Team building



Class 6: Sensors & Tracking, October 8

Final project proposals presentations


Sensing pickups and drop-offs of widgets with RFID tags


Arduino basics

RFID sensors & tags

Assignment 6

  • Final project proposals due
  • Program an Arduino microcontroller with a RFID sensor to read a RFID tag and update/visualize a pickup/drop-off inventory
  • Save data in a JSON database
  • Alternatively you can use a camera and QR code identification
  • Do/Make something useful/creative


Igoe, Tom. Getting Started with RFID. O’ Reilly. Download: http://filepi.com/i/ZDbONbg



  •  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6aR1k-ympo
  • http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/upc.htm
  • http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/rfid1.htm


Class 7: Network Communications, October 15


o   Addressing and routing

o   Sending messages from a station to a server using Ethernet

o   Client and server

o   Ethernet and User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

o   Databases

o   Plot.ly


Arduino Ethernet shields

UDP in Processing

Writing messages in a text file



Arduino Ethernet Tutorials

  • http://bildr.org/2011/06/arduino-ethernet-pin-control/
  • http://bildr.org/2011/06/arduino-ethernet-client/
  • http://protechy.com/arduino-ethernet-shield-client-and-server/
  • http://www.ladyada.net/learn/arduino/ethfiles.html
  • http://startingelectronics.com/tutorials/arduino/ethernet-shield-web-server-tutorial/
  • http://randomnerdtutorials.com/arduino-webserver-with-an-arduino-ethernet-shield/
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcOE2XAQHzY
  • http://tronixstuff.com/2013/12/06/arduino-tutorials-chapter-16-ethernet/
  • http://arduino.cc/en/Guide/ArduinoEthernetShield
  • http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Ethernet-Shield-Tutorial/


Dynamic Web Development 

(ITP Spring 2013) http://itpwebclass.herokuapp.com/

Excellent resources by John Schimmel – john.schimmel@gmail.com

Assignment 7

Make a simple network with 3 Arduino-Ethernet modules (Arduino Yun also works). Send a message to a remote IP address, read and visualize message.

Store, query and extract data to and from a text file (or a database)





Class 8: Game Theory, October 22


o   Utility and Selfish behavior

o   Ecosystems and the “Tragedy of the Commons”

o   MoD systems as commons of mobility

o   Tradeoffs and bundles of options

o   Currency, budget, cost of time and decision making in MoD systems

o   Pricing and decision-making

o   Economics and market equilibrium

o   Performance as social welfare

Assignment 8

Design and study the equilibrium of an ecosystem in which players’ selfish behavior collapses the system. Play the experiment


The Tragedy of the Commons



Class 9: Mechanism and Market Design, October 29

Guest Talk:

Justin Cranshaw, PhD Candidate in Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

Final project progress presentations & feedback


o   Incentives and incentive mechanisms

o   Self organization

o   Institutions of collective action, Markets, and Strategic Games

o   Game Theory, decision-making, and equilibrium in strategic games

o   Social Mechanism Design and Incentive Mechanisms

o   Market Design, market makers, and platforms

o   Market equilibrium

o   Governing the Commons

o   Governing the Commons of Mobility

Assignment 9

Design a game with two or more players such that the selfish behavior of players takes the game in a equilibrium or outcome that you have predefined.

Make an online server and database to record the results


Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World. By David Easley and Jon Kleinberg. Cambridge University Press, 2010.



Class 10: Game design, User Interfaces for strategic social games, November 5


o   Representing money and time

o   Fair game

o   Plot.ly

o   Breakout session / feedback on projects

Gust Speaker

Michael Pellegrino, the Director of Operations at NYC CitiBike

Assignment 10

Design the layout, number of players, goals, rules, and interface for a participatory simulation game that can serve its users without an operator. It can have the scale of a board game, a building-scale game, or an urban-scale game.


Uri Wilensky. Networked Gridlock: Students Enacting Complex Dynamic Phenomena with the HubNet Architecture in the Proceedings of The Fourth Annual International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Ann Arbor, MI, June 14 – 17, 2000. http://ccl.northwestern.edu/papers/gridlock/Wilensky-Stroup.html

Papanikolaou, D. Cloudcommuting: Games, Interaction, and Learning. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children – IDC13 (New York, NY, 24-27 June 2013)



Class 11: Breakout session / feedback on projects, November 12

Assignment 11

Run a pilot experiment with your project and prepare a report with your results for discussion next week.



Class 12: Final Reviews, November 19

Final position papers due.

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