Democratizing Urban Data for Smarter Cities

Two winning teams from Data Canvas demo apps and discuss strategies for making real-time urban data more accessible and useful for citizens—all on the swissnex parklet.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


August 28, 2015 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



Join us on our parklet for an evening of demos and discussion around It Feels Like and Urban Heartbeat, two winning apps of the Data Art Challenge, part of Data Canvas: Sense Your City.

It Feels Like’s co-creator Frank Lanke Fu Tarimo, of ETH Zurich, shows how, by comparing local weather conditions, his app discovers cities that “feel” similar to yours and when. A summer day in San Francisco, for example, might feel like September in London or December in Rio. It Feels Like pulls photos of these places from Flickr as you learn about their climate and geography.

San Francisco-based Aurelia Friedland and Steve Pepple created Urban Heartbeat and since Data Canvas have built it up as an interactive installation that connects passersby in the Mission District to real-time civic, social, and environmental data streams.


Aurelia Friedland

Interactive Design | Research
Aurelia Friedland is a multidisciplinary interaction designer, media artist, and researcher currently based in Berlin/San Francisco. Her work explores complex everyday systems in partnership with architects, engineers, makers, and policy makers. Time across sectors has lent a broad view of “user experience design”, data sensing, and display – as well as a dedication to facilitate diverse user engagement across ever-evolving urban scales.

Steve Pepple

Creative Code Fellow | Developer
Steve Pebble is a designer and developer who works to make city streets a little better. He works with engineers, artists, city planners, and architects on maps and apps. He creates user-centered civic systems for improved interactions between people and cities.

More Info

Data Canvas, a partnership between swissnex San Francisco, Gray Area Foundation, and Lift, is a media network that promotes public education around civic issues. It is a shared experience that invites discovery and interaction, just as streets and cities always have.

After a first data visualization competition on public transportation in 2013, the founding partners teamed up again to launch Sense Your City. A hundred volunteers in seven cities built their own DIY environmental sensors, and in February 2015, Data Canvas opened the data streams from these devices and initiated the Data Art Challenge.

For 10 weeks, designers, makers, hackers, artists, data scientists, urbanists, students, and citizens around the globe were invited to use the collected data as raw material. Thirty-four final data art projects were submitted from 62 creators. The jury selected six winning entries, including three Grand Prizes.

It Feels Like, which won the swissnex San Francisco Grand Prize in the Data Art Challenge, was created by ETH Zurich’s graduate students and researchers Frank Lanke Fu Tarimo, Danielle Griego, Nikola Marinčić, and Jorge Orozco.

Urban Heartbeat, which won the Gray Area Grand Prize, was created by San Francisco-based Aurelia Friedland, Srivinas Ashok, and Steve Pepple.

Discover all the Data Canvas projects, winning visualizations, interactive map, and more at


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos