Urban informatics beyond data: Media architecture, placemaking, and citizen action
Foth, Marcus (2015) Urban informatics beyond data: Media architecture, placemaking, and citizen action. In UCUI 2015: Understanding the City with Urban Informatics: UCUI 2015 Workshop in Conjunction with CIKM 2015, 23 October 2015, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, VIC.
Since 2006, we have been conducting urban informatics research that we define as “the study, design, and practice of urban experiences across different urban contexts that are created by new opportunities of real-time, ubiquitous technology and the augmentation that mediates the physical and digital layers of people networks and urban infrastructures” . Various new research initiatives under the label “urban informatics” have been started since then by universities (e.g., NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress) and industry (e.g., Arup, McKinsey) worldwide. Yet, many of these new initiatives are limited to what Townsend calls, “data-driven approaches to urban improvement” . One of the key challenges is that any quantity of aggregated data does not easily translate directly into quality insights to better understand cities. In this talk, I will raise questions about the purpose of urban informatics research beyond data, and show examples of media architecture, participatory city making, and citizen activism. I argue for (1) broadening the disciplinary foundations that urban science approaches draw on; (2) maintaining a hybrid perspective that considers both the bird’s eye view as well as the citizen’s view, and; (3) employing design research to not be limited to just understanding, but to bring about actionable knowledge that will drive change for good.
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