Where Chaos Is Normal: How Times Square Operates

Public Space as spectacle is exemplified by Times Square in New York , behind the endless event that is experienced by every visitor to it is a lot of unseen hard work supported by a governance process that make it possible: From Urban Omnibus

 

Times Square runs on spectacle. Bigger and brighter is always better. And though plenty of New Yorkers wear their criticism of Times Square as a badge of local honor, calling it a tourist trap stripped of its former authenticity, there is no denying its place as one of the most iconic public spaces in the world. In recent years, as stretches of Broadway formerly open to vehicular traffic have been repurposed as pedestrian plazas, opportunities to activate the “crossroads of the world” with events, performances, and public art installations have ballooned. The Square hosts hundreds of events, film and television shoots, and public art installations and performances every year. Each has to maneuver around the hundreds and thousands of workers, commuters, visitors, and business owners that pass through every day, and negotiate the regulations and priorities of a host of city agencies.Damian Santucci is Director of Production and Operations for the Times Square Alliance, the business improvement district that covers 41st to 53rd Streets from 6th to 8th Avenues and 46th Street’s “restaurant row.” As such, he’s responsible for overseeing and facilitating all on-the-ground activity in the Square, from a small public art installation to the annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza. Here, Santucci explains the particular challenges and perks of operating one of the busiest and most recognizable places in the world and walks us through the logistics of making the spectacle happen.–V.S.

Varick Shute: What does the day-to-day work of the Director of Production and Operations for the Times Square Alliance entail?
Damian Santucci: I manage on-the-ground operations in the Square, which includes working with our internal sanitation and public safety departments and the various city agencies that need to be involved in whatever is happening on a given day. As a business improvement district (BID), our budget comes from assessments paid by the business and property owners in Times Square, so technically we work for them. Part of my job is making sure their businesses can operate efficiently in the middle of everything else happening around them.

On the production side, I coordinate with event producers and oversee the set up and staging of events — going on walk-throughs, making approvals, looking over drawings, and making changes — and deal with complications that come up during that process: where are the fire lanes? How is a truck going to get through? How is an installation going to be built? Can it stand up to the weather — wind, rain, snow, ice? How is it going to affect the public? I’m there on overnights making sure that things get loaded in correctly or making sure the shoots are abiding by the rules.

Your work is funded by the businesses in the Square, but the area is also one of the most iconic public spaces in the world, from which the public expects certain things. How does the Alliance serve all those constituencies?
We have to balance what’s good for the owners, what’s good for the Square, and what’s good for New York, and sometimes those interests don’t line up. If you’re a business owner in Times Square, the main thing you care about is that people come here and walk past your store. They might not want a variety of public activities that could block their entrance. For example, nobody makes money on New Year’s Eve; the businesses are mostly closed. But New Year’s Eve is New Year’s Eve — it keeps people coming to Times Square and it’s very good for the city. So there’s a tradeoff, and we try to keep everybody happy.

What role do you think Times Square plays in the city and for the people who live here?
When I first thought about taking this job, Alliance president Tim Tompkins asked what the Square meant to me. The best explanation I could think of was my experience with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Everyone knows Michelangelo and everyone has read about, studied, and seen a thousand pictures of the Sistine Chapel. If you get to visit it, your expectations are to the moon and back; nothing can meet them. When I finally went for myself, it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever see in my life. It made my expectations seem so small. That’s how people all over the world see Times Square. I take great pride in making it so that somebody can walk into Times Square and her expectations are just as blown through the roof as mine were at the Vatican. I want someone’s first reaction to Times Square to be, “Oh wow, this place is amazing.” If that happens, we did our job.

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Questions of Data Sovereignty -The laws of the city ?

Questions are raised by The Economist  as to what use is all this data – some wonder  wonder is it not just another way to embed control and power and other whether it means anything at all – just  more utopian dreams which will fall by the wayside – so much more archived felled trees and crowded cloud space?

A deluge of data makes cities laboratories for those seeking to run them better

NO FACE looks alike, but human bodies and their genetic make-up are almost identical. Cities too have distinctive charms—but are surprisingly alike behind their façades. Regardless of size, their populations grow at the same average rate everywhere in the world. A city twice as large as its neighbour is likely to be 15% richer. The mix of green space and built-up areas tends to be equal everywhere.

Such findings reflect a recent shift in urban research. Better technology has turned cities into fountains of data that confirm known regularities and reveal striking new patterns. This could transform how cities are regarded, built and managed. Attempts to contain urban sprawl, long the prevailing paradigm of urban planning, for instance, could fall out of favour. Cities could be run with the sort of finely tuned mix of technology and performance associated with Formula 1 racing cars

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A more comprehensive review of  these data driven technologies can be seen  on Pop-Up Cities post

Data-Driven Urban Citizenship

With networked infrastructures mixing with physical fabric of the cities (check out iPavement, paving tiles with embedded microcomputer), there is a gradually growing body of urban data. Often this data is not collected or not stored. Often it is stored without being shared. A steady trickling out of this urban data, however, is taking place through open data platforms and various public-private data partnerships. While there emerges a political demand for rights regarding networked objects (see Adam Greenfield and Bruno Latour and Near Future Laboratory), a range of products, services and platforms are coming up that offer to enrich citizenship with accessible and visualised data.

The everyday citizenship in urban areas is increasingly augmented by all kinds of incoming data visuals — map of ‘every bus trip’ in the city, possibilities of using the same data to pre-empt congestion and resolving them by diversifying traffic, geographic spread of different languages used to tweet across the city, crime landscape of the cities (and of course you remember Crimespotting by Stamen), catching criminals by real-time data miningvisualisation of energy and resource intensities of your city, and exploratory platform for historical visuals and documents embedded on the city map.

 

Read more: http://popupcity.net/2012/06/data-driven-urban-citizenship/#ixzz1yngSCaD1