Reconstituted Smart Citizenships Hacking Data-Based Urban Representations of the Public Domain

 

This project involves an ongoing series of collective spatial interventions, developed with a DIY ethos, that predate Smart City technologies to leverage both individual and shared human subjectivities in urban domain of the public commons. Sites have included Edinburgh, Cagliari and Karlsruhe.

Core Methods

Researchers are employing practices of Urban Hacking and Critical Making through DIY computational environments like Arduino. Working with user groups, we collectively design and build digital “sensing” instruments to study relevant urban issues with a bottom-up perspective, subsequently mapping the resulting datasets as a means to render them visible (both physically and conceptually). Ultimately, we iteratively design digital, spatialised “hacks” that respond to the issues we detected in the context of the city. In doing so, the work articulates a critique of the top-down narratives championed by the hegemonic paradigms of data-driven urban processes (such as Smart Cities or, more recently, urban labour platforms such as Deliveroo or Uber).

Methodological Challenges and Questions

How is spatialized digital intelligence developed and represented in the urban context? Can we envision alternative means of development and representation against the grain of hegemonic “smart” data-driven paradigms, especially in regards to collective urban life? Challenges include the inherent tension between objectivity/subjectivity in data-driven efforts (sample sizes, range of parameters, representation of social groups, etc). Other relevant challenges include the technological implementation of these collective queries – not necessarily as a hindrance but rather as an opportunity to envision an inventive DIY approach.

Tools

  • Arduino digital prototyping platform
  • Free GPS tracking tools for smartphones
  • Rhinoceros + Grasshopper CAD software for data handling and visualisations

Credits

Miguel Paredes Maldonado

Some strands of work developed with Karen Gregory (SPS). Technical support by Matthew Hamilton (ECA). User/student groups from University of Ediburgh (ESALA), University of Cagliari, and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

 

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Implications of this project