Réalisations, and five other Montreal interactive multimedia and lighting companies were brought together under the leadership of Moment Factory, to help realize “Living Connections”- the lighting of the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Réalisations came up with the idea of using big data as a modulator of the lighting system, as well as creating the programming and software- “SENS.ei Data”- and support thereof to make this a reality.
The custom software behind the world’s smartest bridge
For every particle of light on the bridge, there is a specific piece of data determining how it is expressed (what color it is, how bright it is, what direction it moves in, where it appears on the structure etc). The lighting patterns on the Jacques Cartier Bridge are meticulously informed by big data gathered by Réalisations' software SENS.ei Data in real time, and will never be random.
Réalisations is responsible for developing SENS.ei Data specifically for this project- a custom software that collects, monitors and harmonizes data from various sources; sensors, weather station, microphones, radars, press reports, social media and cameras pointed to the sky. The data is then broken into various categories and subcategories, all of which feed the lighting of the Jacques Cartier Bridge. SENS.ei Data sustains the spirit of Montrealers within “Living Connections”, to ensure that over the next ten years, no two days on the bridge are the same.
The Observatoire de la circulation de l'information (OCI) is participating in this innovative project.
How data from SENS.ei Data is expressed in light
The interior lighting network is predetermined; it expresses color based on the season. The hue changes slightly each day, so that over the course of a year the interior lighting of the bridge serves as a 365-colour chromatic calendar; whereas the exterior lighting network beats to the pulse of Montreal’s data stream. The external side lighting reflects Montreal’s day-to-day energy based on a multitude of data collected from SENS.ei Data. Various types of big data inform the speed, intensity and arrangement of lighting over the course of the day. The collection and integration of media data is what makes each day on the bridge completely unique.
SENS.ei Data collects information from traffic radars, bike sensors, microphones plus cameras monitoring the color of the sky, and integrates reports from OCI sourced across social media and online news through the tracking of various keywords and hashtags. There are two main components of how this vast range of data is expressed; during the “Hourly Show” and in the “Ambient” phase of the bridge’s day.
Lasting approximately five minutes, every hour the bridge will perform a recap of data collected throughout the day. The show consists of four main acts; weather, traffic, media and mood bookended with a brief intro and outro. Particles of light express data from each category in a unique way.
- Weather: the movement of light will change based on the direction of the winds, amount of precipitation, temperature etc.
- Traffic: sensors on the bridge track the direction of traffic and types of vehicles (trucks, cars, bicycles and pedestrians), all of which modulate the density of light particles on the bridge.
- Media: seven media categories are monitored, each corresponding with a different color; environment (green), sports (blue), technology (light blue) etc. The color displayed corresponds to the most talked about category for the current day.
- Mood: in addition to tracking the quantifiable data using the frequency of keywords and hashtags, SENS.ei Data tracks the sentiment associated with all this data, to create a feeling or “mood” for the bridge that changes with the feelings of Montrealers. The bridge can either be positively, or negatively animated based on people's’ reactions to various subjects on social media. A mood rating is tracked on all data, between -1 and +1, which determines the direction of the light particles; if the overall sentiment is negative, particles of light will cascade downwards; if the sentiment is positive they will drift upwards.
Ambient Show (Pulse of #Montreal)
The ambient show serves as the foundation for the lighting on the Jacques Cartier Bridge, this is what Montrealers will be seeing for most the time that the bridge is “awake”. In this phase, the vitality of Montreal is monitored on social media. For each Tweet using one of the preselected hashtags (#MTL, #MTLMoments, #IlluminationMTL, #Montréal, #Montreal, #375MTL) a particle of light will descend from the turrets atop the bridge. The characteristics of these light particles will depend on various engagement with the tweet; color is determined by which hashtag is used and can reflect the sky color of the day, the amount of likes the tweet receives will inform the length of the particle, and the amount of retweets will determine how fast it moves. On a day when the city is abuzz with local news such as a Habs victory, a public event, bizarre weather or a big piece of news, these pulses of light will create an excited energy on the bridge. A quieter day will show less activity, and reflect the calm of the city.