The Urban Lighting Project Gathers Strength With New Grant Award
The City’s Interactive Urban Lighting collaboration with the University of California Berkeley that commenced in 2014 continues, as the U.C. Berkeley Center for New Media has been awarded a $50,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through its Our Town program, and matched by U.C. Berkeley funds. The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.
“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play. Projects such as the one led by Greg Niemeyer at the Berkeley Center for New Media help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”–NEA Chairman Jane Chu.
With the support of the NEA, the Berkeley Center for New Media will continue to install urban lighting fixtures on West Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro, connecting the BART station and the Downtown area through an engaging and safe walking experience. Programmable, motion-triggered LEDs are controlled by a central computer and cast spotlights after dark. The sidewalk brightens just before pedestrians approach and illuminate ten feet of the path ahead, creating the effect of walking on a path of shimmering light.
“Public spaces that are safe, well-maintained, and populated with residents having a pretty good time reflect a community that is welcoming. Interactive lights help to extend the welcoming experience into the night, and at the same time, they give residents valuable data about pedestrian circulations.”–Greg Niemeyer, U.C. Berkeley Center for New Media.
Once completed, the installation will collect non-identifiable motion data reporting how many people passed, in which direction, at what speed, and at what time. This flow data will be a valuable resource for both the City and the residents to prioritize traffic, air quality and wellness budgets, and to assess the impact of urban improvement initiatives. The Interactive Urban Lighting project was developed from a course spearheaded by Greg Niemeyer and Ron Rael, funded by U.C. Berkeley’s Global Urban Humanities program, and is currently led by Niemeyer and Pablo Paredes (a San Leandro resident), with support from the City’s Office of Innovation, the Department of Public Works, the City of San Leandro Library, and the San Leandro Improvement Association.