Seminar 1: Sophia Maalsen – Where is the Smart House in the Smart City?

Our first seminar in the 2017-8 series will be given by our visiting scholar Dr. Sophia Maalsen who is the IB Fell Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning. She will be in Dublin and available to discuss her work from the 27th of September to the 27th of October.

In this seminar she will be presenting her preliminary explorations into situating the smart house in the smart city research as one part of her broader project, ‘Housing Futures: Smart and Shared’ – a project which looks at how smart technologies and the housing affordability crisis are reconfiguring housing. This project responds to both these imperatives – understanding the experiences of share housing as an increasingly important form of living, and understanding the smart home beyond owner occupation. It asks: how are shared and smart houses being made in contemporary Australia and what are their implications for housing policy?

Increasing attention is directed to smart cities as their popularity as a ‘fix all’ for the economic, environmental and social challenges facing cities, continues to grow. Contemporaneously, there is a growing amount of literature on the smart home and smart housing, likewise positioned as a smart solution to environmental, economic and social problems. Despite the increased activity in these two ‘smart’ areas, there is little research that addresses smart housing in context of the smart city. Furthermore, in the limited research on smart housing, a comparatively small amount of literature addresses their ‘smart’ nature from a social science perspective. Of the scant literature that addresses both the smart house, even less does so from a social science lens of analysis, with publications predominantly located in the computer sciences and engineering. This is problematic on multiple levels. First, the dominance of computer science and engineering literature on both smart cities and smart houses, privileges technological solutions to city and housing issues and contends that improvement will be an automatic outcome of technology, rather than understanding how people can use the technology for better outcomes. Secondly, the relative absence of housing in smart city discourse makes invisible a key component of the city and its broader web of relations, flows of people, capital, materials and resources. In this seminar, she discusses these gaps in the literature, identifies why this is problematic and suggests areas where the smart city and smart housing intersect.

This research is funded by the generosity of the Ian Buchanan Fell Trust and Sophia would like to acknowledge their support.

ProgCity_Seminar_5_1_SophiaMaalsen

New paper on collaborative urban infrastructuring

Sung-Yueh Perng has published a new working paper entitled Practices and politics of collaborative urban infrastructuring: Traffic Light Box Artworks in Dublin Streets, as part of the Programmable City Working Paper series.

Paper Abstract
Cities are transformed into sites of experimentation through large-scale smart city initiatives, but the visions and practices of establishing public, private and civic partnerships are often overshadowed by corporate interests, governance convenience and efficiency, with an overemphasis on technological innovations. Instead of relying on these partnerships, civic hacking initiatives seek to develop collaboration between programmers and community members, on the one hand, and government officials and organisations, on the other, for experimenting prototyping processes that foreground community needs. These initiatives are considered as pursuing open, inclusive and collaborative governance and is analysed through the lens of collaborative urban infrastructuring to attend to the dynamics, consequences and implications emerging from the prototyping processes. The analysis of the collaboration between Code for Ireland and Dublin City Council Beta suggests that the spatio-temporal scaling of prototypes lead to the continual and contested scaling of skills, knowledges, capabilities, organisational procedures and socio-technical arrangements. These heterogeneous scaling engenders desirable futures and future problems. The articulation and enactment of the values that attract diverse visions, viewpoints and practices into collaborative experimentation can be challenged by agonistic relationships arising from exploring practical arrangements for the mutual shaping of desirable governance procedures and the organisational expectations, obligations and constraints that are already in place. Furthermore, in the processes of scaling, there are constant dangers of enacting patriarchal stewardships and taking an all-knowing position for caring and evaluating impacts, which makes it critical to also experiment with ways of disclosing urban techno-politics that emerges continuously and in unanticipated ways.

If you are interested, full working paper can be found here: https://osf.io/2xpq7

Visiting positions, Programmable City/Building City Dashboards projects at Maynooth University

We are pleased to announce five visiting positions to Maynooth University to work with the Programmable City and/or Building City Dashboards research teams located in the MU Social Sciences Institute and the National Centre for Geocomputation. We are particularly keen to host visitors with an expertise in urban data, data visualisation, augmented/virtual reality, media art and installations, and spatial analytics/modelling, either from a social theory or applied/technical perspective.

It is anticipated that visitors would be based in Maynooth for two to four weeks and would present a seminar and discuss their work with Maynooth scholars, and also explore potential future collaborations with respect to research, funding applications, publications, events, and student exchanges.

All visits must take place by the end of July 2018. The maximum value for costs for each visitor is €3,000 (to include travel, accommodation, subsistence, but not salary) payable for receipted expenses. Any costs associated with the visit beyond €3,000 will need to be met by the visitor.

To apply, please send an expression of interest that details your relevant expertise and reasons for wanting to visit, along with a CV and prospective dates of visit to Rob.Kitchin@mu.ie, with the subject line ‘Visiting position MU’. Queries about the positions can also be sent to the same email address.  Closing date: 24th September 2017

These visiting posts are funded by Science Foundation Ireland as part of a supplemental grant to Prof. Rob Kitchin’s European Research Council funded Programmable City project. The Building City Dashboard project is also funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

More information about the Programmable City project can be found at http://progcity.maynoothuniversity.ie/                   @progcity

More information about the Building City Dashboards project can be found at http://dashboards.maynoothuniversity.ie/           @dashbuild   https://www.facebook.com/bcdmu/

The Dublin Dashboard, developed by both projects, and presently being redeveloped is at http://www.dublindashboard.ie/         @dublindashboard

Between the two projects there are presently four PIs (Prof. Chris Brunsdon, Prof. Rob Kitchin, Martin Charlton, Dr. Jeneen Naji), 11 postdocs and 8 PhD students. Project partners include Ordnance Survey Ireland, Central Statistics Office, Smart Dublin, and Smart Cork Gateway.

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Workshop: The Right to the Smart City: Citizenship, Civic Participation, Urban Commons and Co-Creation

The 4th annual Programmable City workshop takes place next week (5-6 Sept) at Maynooth University. This year’s theme is the right to the smart city, exploring ideas of citizenship, civic participation, social justice, urban commons and co-creation. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming our speakers and guests and to listening to the papers and engaging in discussion. The event is already at capacity, but as with previous years we will be videoing all the talks and will make them available on the Progcity website in due course.

Introduction: Rob Kitchin, The Right to the Smart City.

Session 1: Citizenship and the Smart City
Katharine Willis (Plymouth, UK), Ava Fatah (UCL, UK), Ana Baltazar (UFMG, Brazil) & Satyarupar Shekhar (CAG, India): Whose Right to the Smart City?

Jiska Engelbert (Erasmus, Rotterdam): Whose right to (define) the smart city? Extending our critical pointers beyond citizen participation

Réka Pétercsák & Mark Maguire (Maynooth): Participation in the Smart City: An Ethnographic Study of Citizen Engagement in Dublin

Cesare Di Feliciantonio (Maynooth): Against the romance of the smart community. The case of Milano 4 You.

Session 2: Urban Commons
Ramon Ribera-Fumaz (UoC, Barcelona): Citizens for Digital Social Innovation: Between Smartness and Commoning?

Michiel de Lange (Utrecht, Netherlands): Datafying the commons: data publics and smart citizenship

Paolo Cardullo (Maynooth): Smart Commons or a smart approach to the Commons?

Session 3: Co-creation and city governance
Nancy Odendaal (Cape Town, South Africa): Appropriating ‘big data’: exploring the emancipatory potential of the data strategies of civil society organisations in Cape Town, South Africa

Anna Davies (TCD): Smart flows? Commodification, commons and consumption for smarter cities

Robert Bradshaw (Maynooth): Democratic Rationalizations in the Bikeshare Sector

Session 4: Public labs, citizen-centric living labs, citizen science
Tara Whelan (Limerick): Matters of fact and matters of concern: issues of legitimacy, trust and resistance in citizen science

Gabriele Schliwa (Manchester, UK): Smart cities by design? Interrogating human-centred design as a tool for civic participation

Claudio Coletta & Caspar Menkman (Maynooth): Calculating publics and citizenship distributed sensing

Session 5: Shared city making (civic hacking, civic media)
Andrew Schrock (Chapman, USA): Toward an Actual Theory of the City: “Civic Tech” as a Mid-Level, Organic Model of Urban Change

Catherine D’Ignazio, Eric Gordon & Elizabeth Christoforetti (Emerson, USA): Participatory Urban Sensing: a Blueprint for a Community-led Smart City

Sung-Yueh Perng (Maynooth): Civic technology, social innovation and the reshaping of smart cities

New book: Data and the City

data and the cityA new book – Data and the City – edited by Rob Kitchin, Tracey Lauriault and Gavin McArdle has been published by Routledge as part of the Regions and Cities series.  The book is one of the outputs from a Progcity workshop in late 2015.

Description
There is a long history of governments, businesses, science and citizens producing and utilizing data in order to monitor, regulate, profit from and make sense of the urban world. Recently, we have entered the age of big data, and now many aspects of everyday urban life are being captured as data and city management is mediated through data-driven technologies.

Data and the City is the first edited collection to provide an interdisciplinary analysis of how this new era of urban big data is reshaping how we come to know and govern cities, and the implications of such a transformation. This book looks at the creation of real-time cities and data-driven urbanism and considers the relationships at play. By taking a philosophical, political, practical and technical approach to urban data, the authors analyse the ways in which data is produced and framed within socio-technical systems. They then examine the constellation of existing and emerging urban data technologies. The volume concludes by considering the social and political ramifications of data-driven urbanism, questioning whom it serves and for what ends. It will be crucial reading for those who wish to understand and conceptualize urban big data, data-driven urbanism and the development of smart cities.

The book includes chapters by Martijn De Waal, Mike Batty, Teresa Scassa, Jim Thatcher and Craig Dalton, Jim Merricks White, Dietmar Offenhuber, Pouria Amirian and Anahid Bassiri, Chris Speed Deborah Maxwell and Larissa Pschetz, Till Straube, Jo Bates, Evelyn Ruppert, Muki Haklay, as well as the editors.

Data and the City is available in both paperback and hardback and is a companion volume to Code and the City published last year.

CFP: Slow computing: A workshop on resistance in the algorithmic age

Call for Papers

One-day workshop, Maynooth University, Ireland, December 14th, 2017

 Hosted by the Programmable City project at Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and the Department of Geography

In line with the parallel concepts of slow food (e.g. Miele & Murdoch 2002) or slow scholarship (Mountz et al 2015), ‘slow computing’ (Fraser 2017) is a provocation to resist. In this case, the idea of ‘slow computing’ prompts users of contemporary technologies to consider ways of refusing the invitation to enroll in data grabbing architectures – constituted in complex overlapping ways by today’s technology services and devices – and by accepting greater levels of inconvenience while also pursuing data security, privacy, and even a degree of isolation from the online worlds of social networks.

The case for slow computing arises from the emerging form and nature of ‘the algorithmic age.’ As is widely noted across the sciences today (e.g. see Boyd & Crawford 2012; Kitchin 2014), the algorithmic age is propelled forward by a wide range of firms and government agencies pursuing the roll-out of data-driven and data-demanding technologies. The effects are varied, differentiated, and heavily debated. However, one obvious effect entails the re-formatting of consumers into data producers who (knowingly or unwittingly) generate millions of data points that technology firms can crunch and manipulate to understand specific markets and society as a whole, not to mention the public and private lives of everyday users. Once these users are dispossessed of the value they help create (Thatcher et al 2016), and then conceivably targeted in nefarious ways by advertisers and political campaigners (e.g. see Winston 2016), the subsequent implications for economic and democratic life are potentially far-reaching.

As such, as we move further into a world of ‘big data’ and the so-called ‘digital economy,’ there is a need to ask how individuals – as well as civil society organizations, small firms, small-scale farmers, and many others – might continue to make appropriate and fruitful use of today’s technologies, but while also trying to avoid becoming another data point in the new data-aggregating market. Does slow computing offer a way to navigate the algorithmic age while taking justice seriously? Can slow computing become a part of diverse strategies or tactics of resistance today? Just what are the possibilities and limitations of slow computing?

This one-day workshop invites participation from scholars, practitioners, artists and others who might be exploring these, or other related questions, about slow computing. Papers might contain explorations of:

  • Slow computing practices (whether using auto-ethnography, ethnography, or other qualitative or quantitative methodologies);
  • How slow computing technologies could be designed for private or public institutions;
  • The challenges facing actors who try to unplug, shield, or silo data or other products of social life from the digital economy;
  • The socio-political possibilities emerging from efforts to avoid data-grabbing architectures;
  • Efforts to raise awareness about the privacy implications of contemporary data-grabbing technologies.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof. Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam

Those interested in participating should send a proposed title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Dr. Alistair Fraser – alistair.fraser@mu.ie – by September 29th 2017. Informal enquiries about the workshop can also be sent to the co-organizer, Prof. Rob Kitchin: rob.kitchin@mu.ie

Works cited:

Boyd, D. and Crawford, K. 2012. Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878

Fraser, A. 2017. Land Grab / Data Grab. SocArXiv. May 19. osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/9utyh.

Kitchin, R. 2014. Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big Data & Society. doi:10.1177/2053951714528481

Miele, M. and Murdoch, J., 2002. The practical aesthetics of traditional cuisines: slow food in Tuscany. Sociologia Ruralis, 42(4), pp.312-328. doi: 10.1111/1467-9523.00219

Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., Basu, R., Whitson, R., Hawkins, R., Hamilton, T. and Curran, W., 2015. For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), pp.1235-1259.

Thatcher. J., O’Sullivan, D., and Mahmoudi, D. 2016. ‘Data Colonialism through accumulation by dispossession: New metaphors for daily data. Environment & Planning D: Society & Space 34: 990-1006. doi: 10.1177/0263775816633195

Winston, J. 2016. How the Trump campaign built an identity database and used facebook ads to win the election. Startup Grind, Nov 18.