Human Ecosystems

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= Human Ecosystems is a family of real-time system capturing information from social networks to visualize the human geography of cities, across space, time and relations.



The Human Ecosystems of Cities is a family of projects whose aim is to understand the ubiquitous public spaces in our cities.

The project shares technologies and some methodologies with the ConnectiCity project and the VersuS project, but goes a step forward.

It promotes the concepts of the Third Generation Infoscape and of Ubiquitous Commons:

In Human Ecosystems a set of technologies is assembled to reclaim a novel form of public space: the human infoscape, the enormous amount of public information that human beings generate during their daily lives to express their emotions, desires, visions and ideas.

And which people have learned well to use, to make decisions, learn, work, collaborate, communicate, consume.

Human Ecosystems captures in real-time all this public activity and gives it back to the community:

  • As a set of information visualisations, to maximize accessibility and usability of this enormous amount of information.
  • As a novel source of Real-time Open Data, which is made freely accessible to anyone wishing use it to gain better understandings of their city's or region's Human Ecosystem, or to create innovative products and services in which it is used.
  • As a series of initiatives on the territory dedicated to let people how the Human Ecosystem can be used to find new opportunities, new possibilities for collaboration, or to discover the unknown challenges of our societies.

The visualisations closely match the information which is harvested in real-time from social networks, among the public messages shared by people and organisations:

  • Space. The real-time geography of the city, as it emerges from the things people discuss, from the ways in which they express emotions, from their ideas and initiatives.
  • Time. The time of the city. When do people talk about Culture? About traffic? About their joys, fears, anxieties, surprises? How much do people discuss issues during their working hours, or in their free time, or on weekends? When do they attend events? How are people's expressions connected to news and happenings?
  • Relations. What is the human relational topography of the city? How do people relate? How does information spread? WHo collaborates together? Are people isolated? Are they hubs, influencers, amplifiers, bridges across different communities?

All this information is publicly available on social networks.

Yet this information is under the control of Social Networking Service Providers, who have built digital spaces for interaction which people recognize as public, but which really are not. As it happens in malls and shopping centers, people perceive them to be public spaces, and expect to be able to behave in them as they would do in public spaces. But in these spaces the Terms of Service Agreements which we (implicitly or explicitly) sign with the Service Providers define the rules which regulate their lives, with impacts on people's privacy, freedom of expression and also on the possibility to share people's expression for civic purposes.

In Human Ecosystems a novel form of public space is established: by making this public information available and accessible to everyone, it is transformed it back into a common, an ubiquitous, real-time, common (thus, the term Ubiquitous Commons which is being used).

The first instance of the Human Ecosystem has been produced for the City of Rome, in collaboration with the Cultural Council of the First Municipality of the City Administration. It is called EC(m1) (as in "Ecosistema Cultura, Municipio 1"), and it is the first a first enactment of this practice. It is focused on Culture, along a broad definition which engages music, theater, arts, heritage, food, traditions.


The project is currently starting in S. Paulo (Brazil), Toronto and Montreal (Canada), Malmö (Sweden).

More Information

  • Video intro: Human Ecosystems