Advancing digital technologies continue to shape all aspects of our society, with particular impact on the professional research community. These new and exciting developments offer considerable advantages in terms of speed, access connectivity, and economy.
Advancing Research Methods with New Technologies examines the applicability and usefulness of new technologies, as well as the pitfalls of these methods in academic research practices. This book serves as a practical guide for designing and conduction research projects for scientists all of disciplines ranging from graduate students to professors and practitioners.
Is it possible to imagine novel forms of urban planning and of public policies regulating the ways in which people use city spaces by listening to citizens’ expressions, emotions, desires, and visions, as they ubiquitously emerge in real-time on social networks and on other sources of digital information? This chapter presents the theoretical and methodological approach, the investigation and research phases, the design and prototyping processes constituting the ConnectiCity initiative, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary series of projects in which artists, scientists, anthropologists, engineers, communicators, architects, and institutions participated to the design of innovative ubiquitous and pervasive systems which were able to transform the ways in which the concepts of urban planning and city-wide decision-making are defined. Novel forms of urban life were imagined, in which cities became the time/space continuum for multiple, stratified layers of information expressing the ideas, goals, visions, emotions, and forms of expression for multiple cultures and backgrounds, producing new opportunities for citizenship: more active, aware, and engaged in the production of urban reality, and in the transformation of city spaces into possibilistic frameworks.
the co-creation of the city
Contact us for samples and extracts.
Iaconesi, S., & Persico, O. (2013). The Co-Creation of the City. In N. Sappleton (Ed.), Advancing Research Methods with New Technologies (pp. 12-33). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-3918-8.ch002
AOS will be at REAL CORP 2013, the 18th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia 2013.
20-23 May 2013, Rome, Italy
House of Architecture Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47, 00185 Roma
Interweaving the digital and analog lives of cities: urban sensing and user-generated cities
A research process lasting from 2009 to 2012 has conceptualized, designed and implemented multiple tools and strategies to experiment novel forms of technologically-supported urban interaction. The goal of this process has been to understand the rituals which have started to shape contemporary citizens’ perception and performance of urban public and private spaces. An ethnographic approach has been used to gather insights about these emergent rituals, affecting the ways in which people have transformed the ways in which they work, learn, relate, consume, travel and entertain themselves in the city.
With the active collaboration of public administrations, organizations, citizen groups, tourist operators and research teams these practices have been enacted in the cities of Rome, Turin, Trieste, Cosenza, London, Berlin and Hong Kong for variable amounts of time. Engagement and results have been formally gathered, observed, processed and measured, allowing the research team to both explore the current scenario and envision new ones.
Real-time content harvesting from social networks, natural language analysis, geo-referencing/geo-coding/geo-parsing technologies, expert systems and ubiquitous technologies such as smartphones, custom electronic devices and conceptual consumer products have been employed to explore the ways in which people are and will be able to: perceive and understand their urban surroundings; access services and information; co-produce knowledge and distributed intelligence; collaborate in the creation of shared projects and city-governance practices; create and maintain peer-to-peer infrastructures for connectivity, commerce, services and culture.
This paper will present the initial analysis – including previous research taken into account in the fields of urban sensing, citizen science, urban planning, urban infrastructure management, urban environment perception and more –; the methodologies, both shared and project-specific, used to conceive, design, implement the prototypes and to measure their effects; the reports about each project in the aforementioned cities, including their usage on-the-field as well as elements of urban and digital ethnographic observation and user experience analysis; a description of a scenario for further research and for the production of service and product concepts, some of which are already in-progress, in the areas of the arts, culture, tourism and city administration.
What emerges is the opportunity to create multi-layered interactive landscapes in urban contexts which allow city dwellers to communicate, collaborate, govern their city, exchange knowledge and information, consume, entertain themselves, produce and distribute services.
Real-time dissent in the city: tools and tactics for contemporary disseminated, dispersed, recombinant movements
Abstract – During years 2011 and 2012 we have created a series of open software platforms which are able to analyse in real-time the content which is produced by users of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Google+, by combining data-harvesting technologies, natural language analysis and geo-location. We have used these technologies in different ways with the objective of trying to understand the various forms in which dissent manifests itself in the scenario of contemporary urban areas, characterized by the progressive availability of accessible ubiquitous technologies such as smartphones and network-enabled devices.
Re-thinking public space and citizenship through ubiquitous publishing and technologies. The experience of Ubiquitous Pompeii for the Italian Digital Agenda.
Abstract – In this paper, we describe the first instances of a family of projects with similar characteristics. Through these projects, we aim to establish contact with urban communities to a) suggest visions for possible forms of city innovation and to b) start co-creative processes for imagining, designing and enacting transformative processes. These co-creative processes involve technologies and innovative methodologies which are able to create knowledge, participation, sustainable and inclusive business models. One of these projects is the Ubiquitous Pompeii where our research and design team developed a city wide process in the city of Pompei in Italy. Ubiquitous Pompeii started by engaging high school students with a series of workshops structured in two phases: a) students’ awareness about the scenarios and opportunities offered by ubiquitous technologies; and b) the acquisition of the skills used to appropriate the technologies and methodologies and to embrace participatory design processes. Students were able to design and develop their visions for the development of their city and its communities, creating services and digital tools. Peer-to-peer learning and collaboration practices played a crucial role. Tools, methodologies and roles have been designed and developed to support the emergence of practices engaging all agencies into a networked process for the creation of the digital future of the city. Institutions and operators play the role of facilitators in what basically is becoming a citywide co- creative process. Along these lines, we have structured a transdisciplinary methodology and a technological toolkit dedicated to cities and urban communities including collaborative ethnography to observe the various stages and processes of the project and discuss its meta-stories with the different actors. The project has been declared as an official best practice for Italy’s Digital Agenda, and as such will be scaled to other cities in the near future, also envisioning wider knowledge sharing and collaboration tools which will be able to interconnect the different communities.
VersuS is a series of works about the possibility to listen in real-time to the emotions, expressions and information generated by users on social network and using ubiquitous technologies, and to publish them onto the cities which they are related to.
A scenario emerges according to which it becomes possible to realize information landscapes which are ubiquitously accessible and which change our experience or urban spaces.
These projects also suggest the possibility to use these methodologies and technologies to promote novel forms of participatory practices in urban spaces, for decision-making, policy-making and urban planning and design.
the video “Berlin_WantsToBeHere.mov” shows a full day of the city of Berlin as captured through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google+). Message captured show when people used social networks to express that they wanted to be in the place they were in.
the video “RomaRiot.mov” shows a full day of the city of Rome as captured through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google+). The video shows the city’s digital life during the violent riot of October 15th 2011.
the video “Rome_aDayInTheLife.mov” shows a full day of the city of Rome as captured through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google+). The video shows a full day of the digital life of the city, in its completeness, with its cycles, patterns and routines.
the video “Turin_Love.mov” shows a full day of the city of Turin as captured through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google+). The video shows 2012′s Valentine’s day as seen through social networks, with people talking about love, making fun about love and arguing because maybe their partner forgot that it was Valentine’s Day.
the video “Turin_Traffic.mov” shows a full day of the city of Turin as captured through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, Google+). The video shows the full digital life of the city as people use social networks to speak about traffic: being stuck in traffic jams, suggesting traffic information or alternative routes, describing accidents and, in general, providing an idea on how much people use social networks in real-time to talk about mobility.
Here we will present the updates for our research projects dedicated to the real-time observation of cities: ConnectiCity and VersuS.
With these two projects we have tried understand the current transformation of urban contexts and in the ways in which citizens learn, work, relate, consume and are aware about their environment.
ConnectiCity, the Atlas of Rome
We have started our analysis by observing how the affordances of space are generated at different levels, such as social, cultural, political, administrative and relational, defining in our perception what is possible, impossible, suggested, advised against, prohibited.
Mobile devices transform our perception of space, time and relations.
Landmark consumer products such as the Sony Walkman have opened up the way for the possibility to personalize our experience of public space. While we walked through cities, devices like the Walkman allowed us to reinterpret space and reconfigure it, transforming it into places of our emotion, fantasy or memory.
Mobile devices, such as cell phones and smartphones, radicalize this process.
While running in a park a mobile phone call will be able to completely transform our perception of space, which could become – even for a limited amount of time – an ubiquitous office, a global living room or a place for distributed entertainment, emotion, relation.
Citizens have started using digital technologies and networks to express their ideas, visions, wishes, emotions and expectations.
I have an idea… on social networks in 2011
This image above represents (in red) the locations of many (over 7 million) internet users who, in 2011, have used social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+) to say “I have an idea!” (e.g.: messages in one of 29 languages expressing the sentence “I have an idea” or one of dozens of variations) and at least 3 other users replied to them (in meaningful ways, including comments, ways to make the idea better or offers for collaboration, as understood by an automatic natural language analysis of the follow-up posts).
turin redrawn using social media
In this image above we can see the city of Turin completely drawn through social media and user generated content (starting from a black canvas, every time a geolocated user generated content is sensed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare, a corresponding pixel is augmented in saturation; this process has been done throughout August, September, October and November 2011 to obtain the result visible in the image).
From these and other examples it is possible to see how citizens are constantly using social media to express themselves in city spaces, describing their points of view on fundamental topics such as mobility, ecology, job market, emotions, consumption, entertainment, culture.
Through the ConnectiCity and VersuS projects we tried to design and develop systems which are able to capture this emergent user-generated information and transform it into usable knowledge for citizens, administrations, activists and companies.
Many results have been produced including:
the Atlas of Rome, a 35 meter urban screen capturing in real time the ideas, desires, visions and expectations of citizens of the city of Rome
VersuS, a realtime system which can visualize and explain the ways in which citizens use social media to express themselves about fundamental issues for the city
The first one is a system which is designed for violent or emergency scenarios in cities (such as riots, earthquakes, natural disasters…). A realtime system collects information generated through social networks and parses them usingNatural Language Analysisto understand the locations (through GPS and Geographical Named Entities) of violent, dangerous, emergent events, or of safe locations, places of first assistance and, in general, safe spots or way outs of difficult situations.
This information is made accessible to users through a special interface, designed for use in emergency situations, where an immediate, thought free information visualization can make the difference in allowing people to react quickly and effectively: an Augmented Reality display shows a color coded arrow; scan from left to right to understand the safest way out or the nearest safe spot, as inferred from the information provided by users (and, eventually, by institutions and organizations) on social networks, in real time. Red means danger, green means safe.
The second one, the HateMeter, uses the same technologies to identify the direction in which a certain emotion (“Hate” in the presented prototype) is strongest, as inferred in realtime by harvesting user generated content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare.
Both applications provide scenarios according to which the forms of emergent expression enacted by users across cultures and languages can be used to produce useful, usable information, available in accessible ways, designed to transform our perception of public space and redefining the concepts of citizenship, transforming it into a more active, informed agency.
This series of projects will be our main focus for the next few months. We welcome suggestions, collaborations and ideas for novel forms usage scenarios.