viernes, 1 de abril de 2016

Week picks #26


Theatrum Mundi is a network of people from the performing and visual arts, the built environment disciplines, from across the academy and community and social collectives. Based in London, it activates projects, meetings, and research in cities around the world.

Theatrum Mundi asks questions about urban culture. Who makes it? Where does it take place? What are the politics of production and display? What are the connections between performance, design and politics, and how can those connections help us understand cities?

The aim of Theatrum Mundi, across its diverse activities, is to afford vulnerable provocation between people involved in confronting these and other questions about the condition, inequalities, and politics of urban culture today.


Indian cities are now more at the centre of debates on urban utopias than ever before. Whether for their entrepreneurial spirit, modernist planning, contested heritage claims,  or ‘smart’ visions, the Indian city has time and again narrated the story of India’s postcolonial coming of age. The future of the Indian city is shaped by its own history – where utopian visions of urban planning are continually reassembled by grassroots articulations of urban citizenship. Each of these grassroots imaginations of citizenship can be seen as a vision for a new alternative utopia. This international network brings together scholars, policy makers, planners and civil society members from India and the UK to explore alternative histories of the utopian city in India.
Alternative utopias of the future

Taking four contrasting cities – Varanasi, Chandigarh, Navi Mumbai and Nashik – this project explores how alternative utopias to top-down planning visions are envisioned at the grassroots. Grassroots imaginations of urban futures are often silenced as illegal, illegitimate, dissenting and anti-developmental. Yet at the same time, they can radically transform the rationalist planning visions that are often out of sync with everyday life at street level. Grassroots visions of urban futures are not necessarily against the city – they have different visions of urban utopias based on citizenship rights, justice and democracy. These visions are shaped by their historic, social and political engagement with city spaces and urban environments. We call these ‘alternative utopias’. We argue that these alternative utopias are key to the planning of future cities in India, at a time when it stands poised towards a radical shift to smart urbanism.


The technological development of the last decades made it possible to accumulate a large amount of data on every aspect of our public or private life.

Not many of us know that a large part of those data are publicly available: several public administrations are already publishing large data sets, that citizen could use to generate innovative applications to change the way we live, move, use the city and the territory.

There is a clear gap between the opportunities offered by the abundance of open data and the citizens’ capability to imagine new ways of using such data.

It involves citizens into a co-design process (hackathons), together with IT experts, public administrations, interest groups and start-up companies, in order to develop new services to improve urban quality and certain aspects of their everyday life. The aim of the project is to raise citizens’ awareness about the opportunity offered by open data and create a new culture of innovation in public services.

In each of the five pilot locations (Copenhagen, Karlstad, Rotterdam, Milano and Barcelona) the project will also create physical or virtual locations (OpenDataLab) that will become the reference point for all citizens and interest groups that want to propose innovative applications based on open data.


How can democratic values be built into technological designs for smart cities that require citizens to share data with each other as well as with commercial companies and governments? In this project, two philosophers and two social scientists will address this question in close collaboration with (ethical) engineers, representatives of neighborhood organizations, local councils, corporations and other interested individuals and groups.

In the future the majority of the world population will be living in cities. Many European governments and companies, therefore, stress the importance of creating smarter cities through the use of information technology. In these so called Smart Cities, tiny computers – embedded in streets, houses, cars, clothing and even on the bodies of city dwellers – gather data about traffic flows, consumer behavior, energy consumption and many other activities. A variety of applications that automatically analyze and use these data will make the city a large, efficiently organized and streamlined, comfortable living environment.

However, in view of the growing concern about the safety of information networks and the unequal distributions of power built into digital platforms, many European governments now strive to ensure that we create future smart cities based on democratic values. This challenge is the starting point for this project. In the next three years, researchers Dorien Zandbergen, Merel Noorman, Tsjalling Swierstra and Justus Uitermark will explore how democratic values can become part of designs for the Smart City.

Three things will be investigated:
1) How values, such as privacy, participation and ownership, can be built into technology.
2) How more people can actively discuss and decide about their own digital environment.
3) How the research findings of this project can be generalized, for instance, through a kind of certification tool that allow users of a digital system to see on which ethical considerations the system was based and to actively partake in the decision-making processes about the design of the system


Week picks series features different initiatives and projects I found or want to highlight on this blog. It will help me track new findings from community groups, startups or local governments working and delivering solutions relevant to the issues covered on this blog. I often bookmark them or save them on Tumblr.

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