At the Conscious Cities conference last week, an event that brought together the disciplines of neuroscience, technology and architecture, I came across one project that is particularly interesting from an Other Valleys point of view, and another in the news that week that suited the architecture and development angle perfectly, so let me mention them both.
At the conference, Emma Greer of Carlo Ratti Associati and MIT's Senseable City Lab (Carlo Ratti is director of the Senseable City Lab) mentioned a project they are doing with the Alm Lab at MIT, called Underworlds. Essentially, they are developing a 'smart sewage platform' by collecting and analyzing biochemical information from sewage water - bacteria, viruses and chemical compounds that live in the human gut and can be discovered in sewage water. The goal is to be able to track the outbreak of disease and the potential carriers. The project is set to be funded by the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment. In total, the project will included six labs and the goal is to be able to transfer this knowledge to Kuwait.
I also came across a story about the Masungu Maternity Waiting Village in Malawi, built by MASS Design with input and funding from the Gates Foundation, UNC Chapel Hill and Malawi's health ministry. In Malawi, the maternity mortality rate is extremely high, one of the reasons being that villages are too far away from hospitals, and commutes too expensive. The Maternity Waiting Village is built to emulate the open areas of a village, and makes it more comfortable for women versus having to desperately go to a large hospital ward, often too late. Up to 45 women can be housed there, and the goal is to get them there early enough to be able to monitor pregnancy conditions before the delivery.