Upcoming Talk: From smart cities to engaged citizens

by P. Antoniadis; I. Apostol

From smart cities to engaged citizens
DIY Networking, urban interaction design, and being together in the hybrid city

The virtual space created through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) overlays more and more closely the physical space of cities, contributing in the formation of a new hybrid space. Our ambitious goal is to provide concrete tools (analytical, conceptual, and practical) that will allow citizens to make informed design choices and shape the hybrid urban space according to their own needs, values and objectives (http://nethood.org).

For that, in this talk we provide a short parallel introduction to the fields of computer science and urban planning seen as the two highly multidisciplinary scientific domains that are responsible for the design of the virtual and the physical space respectively. We draw analogies between the vocabulary, methodologies and ways of reasoning, and argue for the need to converge these mostly separate until today streams of research, to closely collaborate over the design principles that will guide the evolution of hybrid cities.

We then give a concrete example on how such collaborations can be instantiated. Our case study explors the possibilities offered by wireless technology to citizens to deploy local wireless networks outside the public Internet, which can grant easy access for everyone, allow to choose the desired level of anonymity and privacy, and compete with global corporations such as Google and Facebook for the “right to the hybrid city”. We review existing initiatives around the world and identify important design details that matter both in the virtual and in the physical space. In context, we discuss our experiences from a recent interdisciplinary Dagstuhl seminar on Do-It-Yourself Networking (http://www.dagstuhl.de/14042/) with participants from various fields of research and action, including networking, security, community informatics, Human-Computer-Interaction, arts and design, community wireless networks, and more.

Finally, we conclude with an open discussion about the organization of such interdisciplinary gatherings (seminars, workshops, summer schools, hackathons, etc.) around the design of concrete solutions for specific cities. We will use as an example an upcoming summer school, organized by the Departement of Informatics at University of Thessaly (http://www.internet-science.eu/summer-school-2014), whose goal is to explore the design of technologies that allow citizens to appropriate important aspects of their everyday life in the city (i.e., information, urban interaction design, communication networks, and the economy) and engage students to work closely together with experts and local researchers and practitioners for sketching specific solutions for the city of Volos.

Short Bios

Panayotis Antoniadis is a senior researcher at ETH Zurich. During his graduate studies he contributed in the design of distributed scheduling algorithms for high-speed switches and the study of incentive mechanisms for peer-to-peer systems, including file sharing, shared virtualized infrastructures, community wireless networks, and delay tolerant networks. Since 2012, he is pursuing an interdisciplinary research agenda on the role of social software and wireless networks for building sustainable and convivial hybrid neighborhood communities. With colleagues from the field of urban planning, he has proposed a novel social learning approach based on a hybrid experimental framework, the NetHood toolkit, which will operate outside the public Internet and will allow local communities to own, customize, and operate their own ICTs according to their local environment, values and objectives. Panayotis received his Ph.D. degree from the Athens University of Economics and Business in 2006, and until 2012 he was a post-doc researcher at UPMC Sorbonne Universites in Paris. Home URL: http://www.tik.ee.ethz.ch/~pantonia/

Ileana Apostol (Ph.D. in Planning, University of Southern California, Los Angeles) is a researcher of contemporary spatial production in western cities, with the objective to inform urban design practice and pedagogy. In particular Ileana is interested in urban practices that mediate the boundaries between the public and the private, and allow social relations to transform dynamically. Since her doctoral studies, she proposes a dialectic take of urban research and design pedagogy that is inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s theory of spatial production. Before undertaking research on a full-time basis, initially in Paris (Project NETHOOD) and currently in Zurich (Projects PORTA, COMPARE), Ileana has taught Urban Planning and Design in the USA at the College of Environmental Design, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and in Romania at the University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest.