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What's The Big Orange Box On Argyle? Science

By Josh McGhee | February 17, 2017 5:06am
 The box monitors the subtle science behind the new shared streetscape's design.
The box monitors the subtle science behind the new shared streetscape's design.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — When walking the new "shared street" Argyle streetscape, it's hard not to wonder about the big orange box perched at the corner of Broadway and Argyle.

The box, which popped up several weeks ago, is a complement to the streetscape and monitors the subtle science behind its design, according to UI Labs, which works with cities to solve large-scale problems through digital innovation.

"One of the pieces of [the Argyle Streetscape] that is harder for people to see is its stormwater management," said Alex Frank, program manager of UI Labs' City Digital project.

Part of the idea behind the shared street concept is to improve the city's green infrastructure. The planters and permeable pavers work to siphon off stormwater on the curbless street.

Siphoning off the stormwater before it reaches a sewer helps reduce the risk of flooding, while the permeable pavers absorb the water, Frank said.

The orange box collects data from sensors underneath the pavers and planters to determine soil moisture. It also collects data from the RainWise sensor, which monitors the rainfall, he said.

All the data is being collected in the cloud, he said.

"The end game is to get the data up through the city's data portal later this year," said Frank. "Right now we're just trying to get the tech involved up and running."

The city picked the location for the pilot program, and the technology is being tested in three other locations: on Langley Avenue in Roseland, outside the UI Labs office in Goose Island and on Cottage Grove in Greater Grand Crossing, he said.