The smart city has become a buzzword in urban planning and university engineering departments, and a topic of breathless coverage in science and business magazines. But as political leaders, engineers, and environmentalists join the smart-city bandwagon, a growing chorus of thinkers from social sciences, architecture, urban planning, and design are starting to sound a note of caution. Though they share enthusiasm for what a smart city could do, they also point out that smart-city programs couldâwith little public oversightâput us on track to an oversanitized, high-surveillance, serendipity-free urban future that not everyone thinks is ideal.
Good article with great insights on some of the problems I have with the mainstream idea of smart cities and the role of technologies in urban living.
I am happy to share I have joined the Advisory Board of UrbanIxD, a EU funded project “that will build a research network around the domain of data-rich urban environments,focusing on human activities, experiences and behaviours”.
This means an amazing chance to contribute to its objectives and to interact with a great lineup of professionals with much more experience and background than me on these topics. The most promising feature of the project, and this is why probably my contribution makes sense and why I understood the potential of this project from the very first days I got to know it, is that there is a strong focus on reflection about the role of technology in everyday life and human interaction. This research framework makes sense when there is a growing split between different approaches to smart cities and related technologies and the lack of cross-sectoral dialogue in the different knowledge fields of urban technologies. This is due to different scale and perspective approaches to understand cities or a dialogue of the deaf in which human interaction, behaviour and needs re usually cornered in the mainstream celebratory discourses that have become a standard. In this sense, the project is an opportunity to look into hybrid cities from a bottom-up pespective and community intelligence.
During the last days of May I will be in Rome attending the Forum PA, an initiative engaged with italian local authorities to foster innovation in local policies. The 2013 annual congress will be held from the 28th to the 30th and I am pleased to take part as a speaker in a session co-hosted by the Periphèria project, which is celebrating its final conference.
The afternoon session in which I will be partaking in will address the ingredients of a human-centered understanding of the impact of technology in cities such as participatory design, open innovation, co-creation or design thinking. It will be an opportunity to share some thoughts that have been present on the blog last months: user-centered research approaches, hackathons or the role of civic apps in social engagement processes, and also to explore and raise questions on to what extend should technology be used and what kind of services can we expect from citizen-based co-creation processes.
More news: I have become a member of the Advisory Board of UrbanIxD
Seminario de cierre del proyecto Know Cities (28 de mayo, Donostia-San Sebastián)