Author Archives: Claudio Coletta

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.

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Workshop: Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments

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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

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IRC Ulysses Award: “Reshaping cities through data and experiments”

We are delighted to announce that ProgCity postdoc researchers Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy and Sung-Yueh Perng have been awarded the IRC Ulysses Grant 2016 to start a new research collaboration between the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (i3-CSI) at the École des Mines in Paris, and the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in Maynooth University.

The collaborative project, entitled “Reshaping cities through data and experiments”, includes workshops and a series of coordinated publications that will advance our understanding of the contemporary city in relation to urban data and experimentation. The first workshop will take place in Maynooth University (29-31 May 2017) and the second one in the École des Mines, in October 2017.

The overall questions that the collaboration seeks to address are:
1. What data are generated by cities in the context of smart cities and core services such as transport? For whom are these data created and on what infrastructure are they dependent?
2. How are the experiments and demonstrations for urban change organised and accounted? Which actors are involved and how do they engage?
3. How experiments and demonstration through data affect the everyday life of cities, their management and governance practices?

The scientific exchange will explore the following three intertwined aspects that are critical to urban management, governance and everyday life in cities: civic engagement, mobility and automated management.

With respect to civic engagement, the two groups will reflect upon specific ways in which civic initiatives seek to obtain, repurpose and act on urban data for improving quality of life. With respect to mobility, the two groups will discuss the convergence of organisational, technological, political and economic dimensions in initiatives dedicated to innovative mobility practices and demonstrations. They will investigate (1) how such global phenomena are related to wider public or private development strategies (2) how “best practices”, business plans or technical systems circulate from one place to another. With respect to automated management, the two groups will explore the testing of new urban services where the urban environment is used as a living laboratory, such as IoT (Internet of Things) technologies for measuring air pollution and traffic monitoring. Thus conceived the project has two main projected outcomes: to produce scientific and transferable knowledge on the shaping of contemporary cities and to create awareness on the implications of experimental and data-driven urbanism.

Claudio, Liam and Sung-Yueh are honoured and grateful to the IRC for this great opportunity to advance their research on smart cities and build new international collaborations.

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“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 5

We are happy to share the fifth and last (but not least) set of videos from The Programmable City’s recent workshop “Creating Smart Cities”, Session 5: Co-design/co-production of smart cities. [Session 1 here, Session 2 here, Session 3 here, Session 4 here]

The Importance of Enacting Appropriate Legislation to Enable Smart City Governance

Niall Ó Brolcháin, NUI Galway

Abstract
While the technological and data based aspects of the Smart City discourse and ecosystem in the Republic of Ireland continue to progress at a steady pace, policies, procedures and legislation do not appear to be making progress at quite the same rate. There is a clearly measurable increase in Smart City and Open Data related research funding from the three levels of governance, local, national and European Union. In terms of commercial capacity we have seen a significant increase in Smart City related technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT); however, discussions around legislation and enabling policy frameworks with a few notable exceptions have not made such significant progress.There is also a clear difference to the approach being adopted by each of the three levels of Governance to the Smart City concept and to the sharing of data across the public services. The lack of a co-ordinated approach with joined up thinking at all levels is not consistent with the concept of “Smartness”.
In this talk we will look at examples of legislation and policies relating to Smart Cities and data sharing. We will examine the barriers to progress in these areas while exploring potential solutions and synergies at each of the three levels of governance.

Technical Citizenry and the Realization of Bike Share Design Possibilities

Robert Bradshaw, Maynooth University

Abstract

Contemporary or “smart” bike share schemes have exploited the capacity of information and communications technologies to effectively automate systems and deliver improved mobility and convenience for citizens in a way that is both sympathetic to the environment and cost effective for service providers. However research in the sector has tended to view schemes as technically homogenous with comparatively little attention paid to the potential of collaborative design processes to deliver on goals which transcend quite narrow definitions of efficiency and sustainability. As the industry evolves and new forms of engagement emerge, collaborative design has the potential to enrol riders in knowledge sharing and decision making practices which frame them, not as passive recipients of information and services, but as active participants in the creation of the systems they appropriate. Using a lens derived from Andrew Feenberg’s critical theory of technology, this paper reports on a case study conducted in Hamilton, Canada, which explored these themes through an analysis of the design and implementations strategies used to realize their bike share scheme in the real world. The findings reveal the system be integral to, and reflective of, a new liberatory and inclusive politics emerging within the city. The scheme was seen to embody Feenberg’s notions of democratic rationalization and technical citizenry, with institutional expertise and lay experience combining in imaginative and mutually coherent ways to create a technology which embodies a diverse and complementary set of goals and ideologies.

The political and economic realities of introducing a smart lighting system

Darach MacDonncha, Maynooth University

Abstract

Existing studies on the proliferation of ‘Smart City’ associated technologies have often sought to identify the patterns or models of such initiatives. In addition, the implementation of such schemes is often portrayed in the literature in a manner that fails to account for the political and economic realities necessary for their initial conceptualisation and subsequent introduction. In reality the roll-out of such schemes is often far more contested politically and ad-hoc in nature due to a variety of factors. The effective rollout of such initiatives is often contingent on the technologies, motivations, and various stakeholders involved. This paper addresses this misconception by focusing on the practicality of implementing an initiative of this nature. The paper details one project that reflects the political and economic realities of introducing a smart lighting system and seeks to provide critical reflections on the feasibility of the concept and a review of the accompanying institutional regime and the project’s development. The paper also reviews the suitability of a re-conceptualisation of regime and regulation theory together to provide greater insights into the local actors and institutions of the project with recognition of their wider contextual meaning.

Smart for a reason: sustainability and social inclusion in the sharing city

Duncan McLaren, Lancaster Environment Centre – Julian Agyeman, Tufts University

Abstract
This paper explores the overlap between concepts and discourses of smart cities and sharing cities. It identifies common roles for modern technologies (such as Web2, mobile internet, RFID and connected devices), but contrasts the goals and motivations involved. It highlights the complementary value of low-tech sharing – from public spaces to libraries – in supporting social inclusion, and the harmful impacts of economic motivations on sustainability. It argues for a broad social, cultural and political understanding of the logics of urban sharing and urban commoning, in which technological smartness can be harnessed to social transformation of values and behavior. It suggests that cities should embed smart city activities within broadly defined sharing city objectives and programmes, co-produced with citizens.

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“Creating Smart Cities” workshop videos: Session 4

We are happy to share the fourth set of videos from The Programmable City’s recent workshop “Creating Smart Cities”, Session 4: Smart districts and living labs. [Session 1 here, Session 2 here, Session 3 here]

Surveilling the “smart” city to secure economic development in Camden, New Jersey

Alan Wiig, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Abstract
Smart city agendas are often aligned with the creation of new urban districts to attract or retain information and innovation-focused firms. While many of these areas are greenfield sites in the global South, these areas are also emerging in industrial-era cities in the global North. To wit, this essay charts the evolution of Camden, New Jersey’s zones of globalized enterprise. Nearly $2 billion is or will soon be invested in the city. I argue that securing this investment first necessitated implementing “smart” policies around security, surveillance, and policing. As these smart city, free enterprise zones become common styles of urban-economic development worldwide (Easterling 2014), critically engaging with the development strategies underlying said zones is necessary to situate the smart city within the ongoing, evolving relationship between the global economy and cities themselves. Contrasting the emerging geography of global capitalism with the installation of a citywide, digital surveillance apparatus presents an opportunity to investigate the spatial and infrastructural context within which the discourse of and technologies of the smart city are deployed.

Building Smart City Partnerships in the ‘Silicon Docks’

Liam Heaphy, Maynooth University – Réka Pétercsák, Maynooth University

Abstract

The regeneration of the Dublin Docklands as a Smart Port and a place in which to work and live brings about a renewed debate on urban form, function and heritage. Steps have also been taken to characterise the Docklands as a smart district for trialling new urban technologies in collaboration with private enterprise and the start-up community, for which infrastructure is now being put in place across the city. Even in the Smart City realm, local authorities are regarded as the main responsible providers of urban social functions, but the present platform of engagement proves to be more complex: it is influenced by the changing roles of planning agencies, the transformation of the financial services industry, SME alliances and local demographics. The relations of stakeholders are underpinned by their perceived and real ownership of city assets, but are also constantly framed by the future projection of their sovereignty in the area. This paper, therefore, aims to contribute to the conversation on the smart development of the Dublin Docklands by uncovering the local characteristics of engagement. We argue that the collaboration network among heterogeneous stakeholders forms a critical infrastructure, and shapes and enables the transformation of an urban region. Although tied to a global context of deepening globalisation and synergies between investment capital and elected governments, of special interest is the means by which this work is shaped by local context and national priorities.

University Campuses as Bounded Sites of Smart City Co-Production

Andy Karvonen, University of Manchester

Abstract

Universities are significant actors in the co-production of smart cities. Academics provide expertise on the technical, economic, and social aspects of smart technologies and systems as well as serve as evaluators of smart project performance. However, universities also play a significant role in the spatialisation of smart cities by serving as physical sites for innovation activities. Urban university campuses provide an ideal space for experimentation because they are 1) comprised of a large, single-owner estate; 2) include a collection of buildings and infrastructure networks that are managed in-house; 3) provide opportunities for applied research and teaching; and 4) leverage innovation activities as a means to enhance the institution’s reputation in the higher education sector. This paper focuses on the spatial aspects of smart city co-production and the role of university campuses as targeted sites of urban experiments. The work is based on Triangulum, a Horizon 2020-funded project that is targeting two university campuses in Manchester to trial an integrated suite of energy, transport, and ICT technologies. The project frames the campuses as testbeds of innovation with stakeholders including the university estates departments, academic researchers, the local authority, a public-private urban development partnership, and two technical consultants. The project draws the universities into Manchester’s larger knowledge economy agenda while providing a protected space of innovation to trial particular interventions in the heart of the city. Using ideas from laboratory studies and sustainable transitions, this paper suggests that university campuses play a significant role in the co-production of smart cities.

Algorhythmic governance: regulating the city heartbeat with sensing infrastructures

Claudio Coletta, Maynooth University

Abstract

I will address actual forms of “algorhythmic governance” in cities, intended as the way of shaping urban temporality through digital infrastructures to order urban life. Looking at cases and practices of configuring, deploying and retrieving data from sensing devices for sound and air quality monitoring in Dublin, the study will explore how the rhythm of the city is regulated and tuned in order to enact specific forms of governance. In particular, the attention will be directed to the frequency rate of data capture as a crucial aspect in making sensing devices accountable for urban management: on the one hand, producing and maintaining constant the heartbeat of the city allows to generate predictable models for managing urban settings and act upon them; on the other hand, however, setting the frequency and the right measure requires continuous adjustments and balances depending on the historical and situated dimension of city life, related for example to mutable mobility and planning aspects. In order to be effective, governance needs to combine different rhythms given the interconnected and multifarious kind of rhythms and measures. Nonetheless, setting the rhythm makes important distinction between what is noise and what is signal, what is relevant for governance and what is not, what can be predictable and included and what cannot. In emphasizing the role of rhythms in urban governance, the study intends to critically address the debate on anticipatory governance and speculative design considering the multiple, coexisting and conflicting space-time dimensions of the city.