New paper: Rhythm-making, halfway ethnographies and ‘city heartbeats’

Claudio Coletta has published a new working paper (No. 32) – Rhythm-making, halfway ethnographies and ‘city heartbeats’.

Abstract

This paper explores the issue of temporality in undertaking ethnographic fieldwork, drawing on research that examined urban automated management, wherein software is used to automatically regulate traffic flow in a city. In this case, the study addressed: 1) polyrhythmia at different scales produced by algorithms, technology, management and urban life, and; 2) the process of organizing multiple timelines to tune the ‘heartbeat’ of the city. Time is a resource for coordination and regulation, as well as for making sense of actions and experience. Being increasingly dispersed, and black-boxed in a multiplicity of processes affecting and configuring the way the past, present and future are perfomed and lived, time also represents a new object of concern for the ethnographic investigation of algorithmic management. I argue that ethnography allows us to understand the material organizing of dispersed and heterogeneous temporalities while also intersecting with such temporalities. Drawing on Guattari and Deleuze’s concept of ‘refrain’ and from Lefebvre’s ‘rhythmanalysis’, I introduce the concepts of rhythm-making and halfway ethnography with the purpose of accounting for the manufacturing of multiple temporalities and for the time-boundedness that links ethnographic practice and the technological, organizational, and cultural ‘heartbeats’ of fieldwork. This approach intends to temporally and spatially reposition organizational ethnography, offering analytical tools to study new contemporary entanglements of ethnographic practice and data.

Download

New paper: Land grab / data grab

Our colleague from the Geography Department at Maynooth University, Alistair Fraser, has published a fascinating paper as a Progcity working paper (31) – Land grab / data grab. Focusing on the use of big data in food production he develops two useful conceptual tools ‘data grab’ and ‘data sovereignty’, using them to explore ‘precision agriculture’ and the notions that data is a ‘new cash crop’ and the ‘the new soil’.

Abstract

Developments in the area of ‘precision agriculture’ are creating new data points (about flows,
soils, pests, climate) that agricultural technology providers ‘grab,’ aggregate, compute, and/or
sell. Food producers now churn out food and, increasingly, data. ‘Land grabs’ on the horizon
in the global south are bound up with the dynamics of data production and grabbing, although
researchers have not, as yet, revealed enough about the people and projects caught up in this
new arena. Against this backdrop, this paper examines some of the key issues taking shape,
while highlighting new frontiers for research and introducing a concept of ‘data sovereignty,’
which food sovereignty practitioners (and others) need to consider.

Download

New paper: Being a ‘citizen’ in the smart city: Up and down the scaffold of smart citizen participation

Paolo Cardullo and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper (No. 30) – Being a ‘citizen’ in the smart city: Up and down the scaffold of smart citizen participation.

Abstract

This paper critically appraises citizens’ participation in the smart city. Reacting to critiques that the smart city is overly technocratic and instrumental, companies and cities have reframed their initiatives as ‘citizen-centric’. However, what ‘citizen-centric’ means in practice is rarely articulated. We draw on and extend Sherry Arnstein’s seminal work on participation in planning and renewal programmes to create the ‘Scaffold of Smart Citizen Participation’ – a conceptual tool to unpack the diverse ways in which the smart city frames citizens. We then use this scaffold to measure smart citizen inclusion, participation, and empowerment in smart city initiatives in Dublin, Ireland. Our analysis illustrates how most ‘citizen-centric’ smart city initiatives are rooted in stewardship, civic paternalism, and a neoliberal conception of citizenship that prioritizes consumption choice and individual autonomy within a framework of state and corporate defined constraints that prioritize market-led solutions to urban issues, rather than being grounded in civil, social and political rights and the common good. We conclude that significant normative work is required to rethink ‘smart citizens’ and ‘smart citizenship’ and to remake smart cities if they are to truly become ‘citizen-centric’.

Download

Workshop: Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments

nebulous08

Mark Dorf, Nebulous08 (2015) http://mdorf.com

When: 30th May 2017 – 9.30am to 3.30pm
Where: Maynooth University, Iontas Building, Seminar Room 2.31

The “Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments” workshop is part of the Ulysses research exchange programme jointly funded by Irish Research Council and the Ambassade de France. It is organized in collaboration with researchers from the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (i3-CSI) at the École des Mines in Paris – David Pontille, Félix Talvard, Clément Marquet and Brice Laurent – and researchers from the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in Maynooth University, Ireland – Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Sung-Yueh Perng.

The aim is to initiate a transdisciplinary discussion on the theoretical, methodological and empirical issues related to experimental and data-driven approaches to urban development and living. This conversation is vital in a time when cities are increasingly turning into public-private testbeds and living labs, where urban development projects merge with the design of cyber-infrastructures to test new services and new forms of engagement for urban innovation and economic development. These new forms of interaction between algorithms, planning practices and governance processes raise crucial questions for researchers on how everyday life, civic engagement and urban change are shaped in contemporary cities.

Some of the questions that the workshop seeks to address are:

  • What data are generated by cities in the context of smart cities and their core services? For whom are these data created and on what infrastructure are they dependent?
  • How are experiments and demonstrations for urban change organised and accounted for? Are they part of a story of continuity or disruption in urban innovation?
  • How do new forms of engagement take place? How do they reconfigure or subsume the public into private or vice versa?
  • How are the publics affected and how do they take part in this process? Which forms of citizenship, community or work are performed?
  • How do data and experiments affect urban management, governance practices and everyday life?
  • How do the economic arrangements and forms of public-private collaboration transform?

Format:

The workshop consists of three sessions:

In the first session, the organizers will present 6 joint papers delineating the issues above with case studies involving Singapore, Medellín, Bogotá, Dublin, San Francisco and Boston.

After the lunch break, in the second session, there will be a workshop that focuses discussion on the implications of experimental/data-driven urbanism, and the new forms of engagement in smart cities. Participants will be divided into groups and the discussion will be facilitated by the organizers.

Finally, the discussion will be wrapped up by organizers and a final report will be edited and shared among participants afterwards.

After the workshop, we will take the train to Dublin at 4pm for an informal guided trip to visit the actual sites of smart city development.

Who can attend:

The workshop is open to researchers, academics, practitioners and policymakers

How to attend:

Please fill out this google form with some personal details and a few lines about your interest in the workshop. Attendance is free with thanks to our sponsors and limited to 30 participants.

If you have questions please contact claudio.coletta@nuim.ie or mussi@nuim.ie

Our Sponsors and Supporters:

The Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments workshop is made possible by generous support from the Irish Reseach Council, the Ambassade de France and Maynooth University Social Science Institute (MUSSI).

Speakers

Claudio Coletta is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Maynooth University, working as part of the ERC funded Programmable City Project. His research focus is on urban phenomena at the intersection between technology, organizations and practices, explored through qualitative methods. His current interests address automated urban management, temporalities of smart city development, experimental urbanism and procurement.

Liam Heaphy is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Maynooth University on the ERC-funded Programmable City Project. He has a background in social sciences, with an interest in science and technology studies, architecture and history, and information science. His current work looks at the relationship between urban infrastructure and smart technologies, examining how smart city discourses relate to other drivers such as environmental efficiency, transport, and place-making initiatives.

Brice Laurent is a senior researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’innovation in Paris. His work focuses on the relationships between science and democracy. He has been involved in projects related to the politics of technoscience, particularly in European regulatory bodies and, more recently, urban innovation. He leads a research project called CitEx, which studies City Experiments through a variety of case studies.

Clément Marquet is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Télécom ParisTech, in Paris. His research focuses on the many roles played by digital technologies in reconfiguring urban assemblages, through three case studies concerning mobility of disabled persons, public participation and data centers implementation.

Sung-Yueh Perng is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC funded Programmable City project in the Natinoal Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis and Social Sciences Institute at Maynooth University. His current research focuses on digital urban life and governance and examines distributed, collaborative and embodied practices in civic hacking and self-quantifying techniques in Dublin and Boston as case studies. He received his PhD in Sociology from Lancaster University, UK.

David Pontille is a senior researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation in Paris (CNRS UMR 9217). His interests focus on writing practices, the technologies of research evaluation, the politics of maintenance, and infrastructures dedicated to urban mobility.

Félix Talvard is a PhD candidate at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation in Paris. His dissertation, based on fieldwork in France, Colombia and the United States, focuses on urban experiments with technologies and practices of mobility. It aims at understanding the transformations of urban governance that such projects entail, including new modes of intervention for private and non-governmental actors.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

9:30: coffee and registration

9.45-10: Introduction – Why smart cities and why data and experiments (Claudio Coletta and David Pontille)

10-11: Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments 1 (Chair: Reka Peterksak, Business School, Maynooth University)

  • Economic arrangements and forms of public-private collaboration in Medellin (Félix Talvard)
  • Data and Experiments as time devices: SBIR, Testbedding and real-time management in Dublin (Claudio Coletta)

11-12: Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments 2 (Chair: Aphra Kerr, Department of Sociology, MUSSI, Maynooth University)

  • Unpacking hacking events and techniques (Sung-Yueh Perng)
  • Internet is at the corner: Experiencing and making sense of data centers in Paris northern suburb (Clément Marquet)

Break

12.15-13.15: Reshaping research and approaches in data driven and experimental urbanism (Chair: Jeneen Naji, Department of Media Studies, Maynooth University)

  • Reflexivity in engaged research (Liam Heaphy)
  • Investigating city experiments (Brice Laurent & David Pontille)

13.15-14: Lunch Break

14-14.45: workshop session

15.00: Wrap-up and closing remarks

logos

New paper: From the accidental to articulated smart city

Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Rob Kitchin have published a new working paper (No. 28) – From the accidental to articulated smart city: The creation and work of ‘Smart Dublin’.

Abstract
While there is a relatively extensive literature concerning the nature of smart cities in general, the roles of corporate actors in their production, and the development and deployment of specific smart city technologies, to date there have been relatively few studies that have examined the situated practices as to how the smart city as a whole unfolds in specific places. In this paper, we chart the smart city ecosystem in Dublin, Ireland, and examine how the four city authorities have actively collaborated to progressively frame and mobilise an articulated vision of Dublin as a smart city. In particular, we focus on the work of ‘Smart Dublin’, a shared unit established to coordinate, manage and promote Dublin’s smart city initiatives. We argue that Smart Dublin has on the one hand sought to corral smart city initiatives within a common framework, and on the other has acted to boost the city-region’s smart city activities, especially with respect to economic development. Our analysis highlights the value of undertaking a holistic mapping of a smart city in formation, and the role of political and administrative geographies and specialist smart city units in shaping that formation.

Download