AMS City Rhythm

Stimulating social cohesion and enhancing the sense of safety

Is it possible to stimulate social cohesion in a specific neighborhood and enhance the sense of safety by creating shared rhythms? Is it possible to identify rhythm both in the physical and data domain of a neighborhood by using large datasets? City Rhythm explores new models for using urban data in relation to new methodologies for rhythm interventions in local contexts. This one year exploratory study is conducted by AMS Institute, together with 6 cities in the Netherlands (Den Haag, Rotterdam, Zoetermeer, Zaandam, Helmond, Amsterdam). Results indicate that rhythm is a new approach for urban policymaking.

In a 24/7 economy no rhythm is given, while for people rhythm is fundamental to survival and well-being (Damasio 2004, Nevejan 2007). The relation between the space of places (offline reality) and the space of flows (online reality) is unclear (Castells 2011). This research anticipates that rhythm is one of the dynamics that connects these two spaces. Rhythm defines our physical well-being, it defines our day-to-day aesthetic experiences (Dewey 1934) and defines how people engage (Gill 2015). With the large variety of data that are collected in network societies, rhythm opens up new paths of policymaking by using these data in socially significant ways (Helbing 2015).

Rhythm is variation in a pattern in a specific structure (Huijer 2015). It deeply affects urban life (Lefebvre 2004). In education, in healthcare, in transport, in energy management and in many other sectors rhythm is fundamental to smooth organization and satisfactory interaction. In daily personal life one can argue that rhythm feels like free energy, anything in tune with a rhythm requires less energy to accomplish. Rhythmic design, beyond functional requirements of specific services, contributes to more balanced societal interactions, to a higher sense of safety of those involved. It is argued to be a new field of the social sciences (Michon 2016). As today social structures in urban environments grow in complexity, tuning, matching, sharing and enhancing rhythms of residents can enable engagement with these structures and create alternative design spaces for tackling intangible and subjective problems such as low sense of safety and lack of trust between residents (Nevejan, Sefkatli,Cunningham 2017)

Diagrams showing the comparison between the daily activities of the single mothers and the opening hours of the facilities.

City Rhythm proposes rhythm and rhythm analysis as a new approach for urban policy making. It is an explorative ‘research through design’ project (Zimmerman et al 2010) that studies shared rhythms in neighborhoods for improving the sense of safety of residents. City Rhythm studies rhythm in the physical domain and in the data domain. It identifies and correlates a variety of rhythms in the social, ecological and technological realm. In the physical domain, the focus is on a combination of social scientific and architectural exploration of rhythms in urban environments. This approach facilitates the translation of social issues that occur in the neighborhoods into rhythm issues. In the data domain, City Rhythm develops a model for identifying rhythm in large datasets. In this sense, the research creates new opportunities to use large datasets for new purposes. In both domains, the final result is to identify new and unexpected intervention spaces, and to translate the findings in urban policy making.

A view of the data model.
Image by Eric Boertjes, Blooming Data.

Download the City Rhythm book here.

Project duration 1/07/2016 – 1/10/2017

Partners TU Delft, Wageningen University & Research, Municipality of The Hague, Municipality of Amsterdam, Municipality of Zaanstad, Municipality of Helmond, Municipality of Rotterdam, Municipality of Zoetermeer, Amsterdam Health and Technology Institute (ahti), Delph Business Intelligence, Blooming Data

Project lead
Prof. Caroline Nevejan (Professor, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and Chief Science Officer, Municipality of Amsterdam. Previous: Associate Professor TU Delft)

Contact Person
Pinar Sefkatli (PhD Student, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Previous: Research Assistant City Rhythm TU Delft)

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