Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Solar Cities ARG concept

Solar Cities: Founders: T.H. Culhane (California, New York, Iraq, Egypt, Germany) Dr. Sybille Frütel Culhane (Germany, Iraq, Egypt), Board of Directors: Andy Posner(California, Rhode Island, Russia), Michelle Finnel (America), Ahmed Khalifa (Egypt, Germany, Kenya), Neda Pouryekta (Iran, Germany, Kenya) , Frank DiMassa (Italy, Northern California)

(Note: This page gives you access to the .KMZ files we are creating for Darb El Ahmar and Manshiyat Nasser's Solar Cities ARG project (described below). For access to Google 3D Warehouse components useful in making your own solar city, click here.)

It all started in 1961, the year Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to leave the gravity well of earth and went into space. Buckminster Fuller proposed the creation of The World Game" (a.k.a. "The World Peace Game") as the core curriculum for Souther Illinois University.
Bucky's visionary idea was ""make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone."
The idea behind Fuller's World Game was to find an alternative to War Games (already being modeled on computers by specialists isolated from the public) and put our collective intelligence to use for social and environmental welfare.

Finally the technology has caught up with Buckminster Fuller's vision. Our idea at Solar Cities is for enthusiasts of sustainable development and renewable energy to help create our part of the game, and make it competitive not only with military planner's War Games, but with all the time-consuming video games siphoning off so much of the publics' problem solving genius.

Our goal is not to replicate the great work being done elsewhere, but to enhance and extend it by creating game modules dealing specifically with the local microeconomic realities and individual and household needs issues pertaining to the communities in which we work.
It is hoped that others will jump on board, mod and model such games for their neighborhoods and areas of interest, and that little by little we will fill in the gaps.
This section, very much under construction, will allow visitors to access .kml files (archived as zipped .kmz files) that can be used with Google Earth.
The goal is to work together to create a unique data visualization tool for the areas where Solar Cities is working so that local citizens, planners, policy makers and global participants can envision and virtually experience the current urban Cairo environment (circa 2007), propose and make necessary and desired changes, simulate, view and even role play the results, and then make recommendations for real world changes.

Ultimately we hope that this site will act as a kind of "WIKI" for sustainable development. We hope to create an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) in which participants use their collective intelligence to solve real world problems.
The "game" would combine familiar elements of SimCity4 and The Sims 2 but would use the simulations merely to model and role play alternate realities that that, once agreed upon, could be truly implemented.

The hook of the game would be that "the system" or "the machine" would be programmed with A.I. following the logic of the dominant modernist, capitalist paradigm that seems to drive so much of the real economy.

"Players" would get to pit themselves against "the machine" or "the system", struggling to introduce a post-modern ("both-and" as opposed to "either-or") and post-capitalist ("profit is no longer a zero-sum game") paradigm that the A.I. avatars (and possibly other real life players) would find antithetical to their worldview.

The A.I. in the game would endeavor to vigorously fight any moves toward "sustainable development" and "environmental and social justice" that upset the status quo.

Players would have to negotiate their way around hostile agents representing industry, government, local and international business, and threatened community members.

Winning the game would involve working toward win-win situations that satisfy both the "idealists" playing the game, and the programmed paradigm posing as "realism".

The first step in this game is developing the game itself. To do so, we first have to create a digital, 3D Darb-Al Ahmar Muslim Craftsperson community and Manshiyat Nasser Zabaleen Christian Community.

This virtual community needs real household attribute data -- all the socioeconomic indicators (poverty level, income, infrastructure, access to credit, family size, gender distribution etc.) that would allow us to model a faithful representation of the actual communities.

An interface needs to be designed that allows for friendly data visualization (see SimCity 4 for some ideas).

Once we have created the community AS IT IS, with reliable data, we then need to develop a game engine that allows us to interact with and manipulate variables in the community.

The game data would have to be updatable as real changes occur in the real community.

Players would try to introduce and create renewable energy technologies, training centers, workshops, small business opportunities and the like (as in The Sims 2 "Open For Business" expansion pack), and see how these things affect the community when played out.

Ideas that game out as producing "Pareto Optimality" would be shared by players with real life planners and policy makers.

Ideas that seem to cause too much conflict and disruptions would be red-flagged and saved for analysis to get better ideas of why given attempts to improve the community don't work.

While all of this is very ambitious, the first stage would be simply creating KML files for use with Google Earth that allow the overlay of 3D architecture, photographs and attribute tables of local infrastructure and demographic information.

As a first step, and an invitation for others to get involved, I am posting my progressively evolving KML files here:

Click here to download Solar Cities first attempt to create buildings with solar panels in Google Sketchup

This file is only 186 KB

Click here to download the KMZ file of Solar Cities first attempts to map infrastructure in Darb El Ahmar

This is a 9 MB file that has two CAD base maps created by the AKTC showing water and electric services, with Google Earth pins (posts) making them clickable in Google Earh.

Using these files is very simple. Simply download the .kmz files, double click on them and they should launch Google Earth and take you right to the location. Alternately, you can download the files in a folder, then click and drag them into the left sidebar in Google Earth.

Here is a first attempt at creating a 3D view of Building 72 with the home built solar hot water system on top.
The view is looking from Darb Al Ahmar West to Al Azhar park and you can see the Muqattam Hills in the background.

Here is a crowded view of the data from above:

Here is a closeup of the map with overlays:

What is needed now are posts showing the building numbers, so we can tie (geocode) survey information with real locations.

If you have map data about innercity Cairo you would like to contribute to this project, please contact us at thculhane@gmail.com

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