Tag Archives: Paris

Ulysses Workshop, Session 2: Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments II

[We are happy to share the second set of videos from the Session 2 "Reshaping urban engagement and publics through data and experiments II" of the recent workshop "Reshaping Cities through Data and Experiments". The introduction, session 1 and session 3 are also available]

Unpacking hacking events and techniques (Sung-Yueh Perng)

Hackathons have become important features in smart cities and in the continuous experimentation of alternative forms of innovation. They are adopted by multinational corporations and also by civic initiatives to produce prototypes that meet the demands of diverse domains. In the processes of meeting these different demands, hackathons become diversified not simply in terms of the themes of the events and the projects and prototypes being developed. The locations and the organisations of the events also become more diversified, responding to the specificities of the challenges that these hacking events propose to tackle. This talk presents early findings of the unpacking of the where and how of hackathons organisations. The data about the hackathons analysed in the presentation are collected from using Eventbrite API and methodological issues arising from the use of Eventbrite API as data collection method are discussed. The presentation also suggests several ways through which the organisations of hackathons respond to different economic, business and social motivations for creating prototypes at these events.


Internet is at the corner: Experiencing and making sense of data centers in Paris northern suburb (Clément Marquet)

It is remarkable that the few studies in social studies that have dealt with data centers infrastructures were noticing their proliferations in the cities and wondering whether urban policies are developed in order to attract or discourage their implantation (Evans-Cowley, Malecki, McIntee, 2003, Annaker, Evans-Cowley, 2005). Indeed, beyond (or before) raising energetic concerns, data centers are land users. As such, they raise specific questions concerning cities governments. And, despite the promotions of data centers in ancient missile silo or Finland’s fjords by the main actors of the cloud (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) most of the companies dealing with data storage and internet services are building data centers around metropolis and cities. Recently, french geographers have studied this phenomenon, recalling that, classically wtworks systems tend towards aggregation and concentration rather than dispersion. Indeed, data centers are quite constrained in their implantation by at least for factors (Moriset, 2003, Dupuy, 2004, Bakis, 2014) :
– Disponibility of cheap land
– Proximity of a powerful electrical network
– Proximity of telecom networks and mainly optic fiber
– Absence of major geographic risks (such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, tornados or military).
For these reasons, I believe it is interesting to pay attention to the conditions of their territorial implantation and study how those infrastructures deal with various local specificities, and, in return, what do they do to the city, to the area they chose for implantations ? As previous works give us a few insight, energetic consumption or land use policy could locally be affected by their arrival, and thus triggering disputes and reordering of local arrangements. To tackle these questions, I will draw on field observations and interviews done between 2015 and now, most of them in a close suburb of Paris. This suburb, named Plaine Commune, has labelled itself French capital of data centers.


We are grateful to the IRC, Ambassade de France in Ireland and the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute for their generous support and for making possible this event.

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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