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MIT's Sensible City Lab project Underworlds attempts to provide better sensory capacities for understanding bacterial and viral activities in sewer systems to better serve the cities that rely on them. Technosphere Magazine talked with Professor Carlo Ratti and Eric Alms about urban infrastructures, biochemical layers and real-time disease surveillance.

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Underworlds is a cross-disciplinary, open-data platform for monitoring urban health patterns, shaping more inclusive public health strategies, and pushing the boundaries of urban epidemiology. Pioneered by the Senseable City Lab and the Alm Lab, and sponsored by the MIT-Kuwait Center for Natural Resources and the Environment, a prototype smart sewage platform is being developed at MIT consisting of physical infrastructure, biochemical measurement technologies, and the down­stream computational tools and analytics necessary to interpret and act on our findings.