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URT – Urban Research Tool | Mobile Mapping for Urban Studies

Urban Research Tool (URT) is a research initiative in new media technologies for urban and design studies at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. Built as both an online platform and an iPhone app, URT creates new opportunities for collaborative research across thematic layers of urban history, built environments, economics, social and cultural phenomena tied to specific urban locations. Through its user-friendly interfaces and thematically focused research objectives, URT offers researchers, students and intergenerational community members a platform to create extensive, rich collaborative projects that feature shared urban locations.

Utilizing advances in Geoweb technologies, URT features a location-aware mobile iPhone app that allows participants to both enter and organize field data for specific locations as well as gain immediate access to URT’s ongoing thematic layers that feature these same locations. Through this ‘push-pull’ field research strategy, users are offered project-specific capabilities that surpass the functionality of commercial GPS systems and many Geoweb sites that are tied to point data alone. Through its web interface, users can further contribute georeferenced audio, video, text and photographic documentation to specific project databases within the URT platform.

Designed as an inclusive, collaborative platform, URT goes beyond spatial coordinates alone to encourage rich and comprehensive research and representation of urban locations. Unlike the majority of Geoweb services with a defined, commercial focus, URT’s mapping layers feature a wide variety of media and information incorporating past, present, future and imagined identities of urban geographies; and defining locations through expansive zones, routes, events beyond commercial characteristics alone.

As specific URT projects advance through collaborative research at Parsons, they are archived within the URT platform for ongoing access by the larger public. Further, multiple production capabilities− print, web, magazine, installation, public forum− can be easily accomplished from the URT databases, allowing users flexible distribution beyond the research interfaces of URT. With its collaborative focus for urban research, URT empowers both academic researchers and local intergenerational communities with an open source mapping system designed to depict the complexity, potential and challenges of urban geographies.

Project Components:

-Design and Academic Research to inform the production of the URT platform.

URT Web Interface.
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iPhone URT Interface.