Anthony Townsend at the Institute for the Future and his research team has produced a fascinating report for the Rockefeller Foundation on the intersection of increasing urbanization and increasing data/information flow from ICTs. “Civic Laboratories: The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion” asks the central question of whether the flood of data about urban citizens can be leveraged to provide for more inclusive and transparent ways to benefit all equitably? Or not.
I would encourage readers to pay attention to both the content of the report and also the skillful way in which the concepts are presented and analyzed. The report presents a typology of future cities that includes: technologies of inclusion, drivers of change and the scale of impact, as well as the key tensions and implications. From the report:
“Over the next decade, cities will continue to grow larger at a rapid pace. At the same time, new technologies will unlock massive streams of data about cities and their residents. As these forces collide, they will turn every city into a unique civic laboratory— a place where technology is adapted in novel ways to meet local needs. This ten-year forecast map charts the important intersections between urbanization and digitalization that will shape this global urban experiment, and the key tensions that will arise.
The explosive growth of cities is an economic opportunity with the potential to lift billions out of poverty. Yet the speed of change and lack of proper foresight has led to a swarm of urban problems—poor housing conditions, inadequate education and health care, and racial and
ethnic inequalities. The coming decade holds an opportunity to harness information to improve government services, alleviate poverty and inequality, and empower the poor.
Some key uncertainties are coming into view:
• What economic opportunities will urban information provide to excluded groups?
• What new exclusions might arise from new kinds of data about the city and its citizens?
• How will communities leverage urban information to improve service delivery, transparency, and citizen engagement?
As information technology spreads beyond the desktop into every corner of city dweller’s lives, it will provide a new set of tools for poor and excluded groups to reengineer their relationship with government, the built environment, and each other.
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for the Future has identified this challenge—harnessing data for development and inclusion—as a critical cross-sectoral urban issue for the next decade and beyond. Integrating designed solutions from industry and government with the tremendous innovative potential of an engaged citizenry will be a powerful tool to address this challenge.”
See below for a link to a FastCompany article on the report and to download the report.
Janet Vertesi, Silvia Lindtner, and Irina Shklovski and putting together what should be a fascinating workshop at CHI – the international conference on computer-human interaction. The call for papers follows:
Recent studies in Human-Computer Interaction have turned to examining computing in non-Western contexts, increasingly recognizing that technologies and activities of their participants are not bounded by single geographies, cultures, or borders. In our interactions with everyday technologies, we are increasingly tied to people and machines in other countries, cultures and networks. Such activities require us to consider technologies not just in national, but also in a transnational context. That is, humans, computers and interactions not limited to single countries or cultures, but forming communities across spaces, managing boundary-crossings, and forming hybrid practices.
This workshop will bring together researchers and designers across academia and industry to address the effects, implications, and design opportunities for individuals and communities who engage in transnational technological practices. We seek participants to explore the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in transnational settings for our workshop, TRANSNATIONAL HCI, at CHI 2011. We aim to assemble an interdisciplinary group of practitioners to expand current work on ICTs in global processes, to develop a language and
toolset for the study of technologies in transnational spaces, and to address the role of ICTs for local-global user interaction, collaboration across boundaries and negotiations of power relations.
Examples of possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
* The use of pervasive technologies such as multiplayer gaming across borders
* Studies of social networking among Diaspora communities
* Use of ICTs in censorship state zones
* The role of ICTs in reconfiguring ?the local?
* Technology in the context of international migration and politics
* Cross-cultural collaboration
Submissions that develop theoretical approaches, report on empirical work or on technology design are welcome, and need not be limited to “developing world” sites. Full papers may later be solicited for a potential special issue. We welcome applications from researchers, designers, practitioners and scholars across the subdomains of human-computer interaction and beyond, in the fields of anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, critical theory, communication, media studies and cultural geography.
Interested participants should submit a 2-4 page paper in CHI Archival Format <http://chi2011.org/authors/format.html> by January 14, 2011 to email@example.com describing your current project and its contribution to the workshop topic. At least one author for each accepted paper must register for the workshop and should attend at least
one full day of CHI <www.chi2011.org>. Additional information, including the workshop description (Extended Abstract), is available on our website at http://www.princeton.edu/~jvertesi/TransnationalHCI/
* Submission deadline – Jan 14, 2011
* Notification of acceptance – Feb 11, 2011
* Workshop at CHI2011 – May 8, 2011
Janet Vertesi, Princeton University, USA
Silvia Lindtner, University of California, Irvine, USA
Irina Shklovski, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark
If you have any questions please contact the organizers at