Digital Infrastructures & The City: The Future(s) of Urban Public Space

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Urban infrastructures have always played an important role in the shaping of urban culture. The village pump, the market place or Haussmann's Boulevards didn't just have a utilitarian function, they also turned into places for communication and cultural exchange.

Advances in digital media - the combination of sensors, 'smart' algorithms and individually tailored transactions - promise to make urban infrastructure more efficient. Yet what does the advance of new media in urban infrastructure mean for urban culture at large? According to some, we are heading towards a 'splintering urbanism' where the roll out of urban infrastructure is no longer aimed at connecting all citizens equally but rather at selling individual services to consumers. Does that mean the end of urban public space as we know it? Others however argue that new urban infrastructures - such as the internet of things - also create new opportunities for exchange and public action.

Published in: Design

Digital Infrastructures & The City: The Future(s) of Urban Public Space

  1. 1. Digital Infrastructures & the City: The Future(s) of Urban Public Space Martijn de Waal www.martijndewaal.nl www.themobilecity.nl mw@dds.nl After the Cultural City - Pécs 24 September 2010 Flickr.com/timdan2
  2. 2. Assumption Public space piggybacks on urban infrastructures Central Question If our cities are becoming ‘hybrid cities’ and increasingly rely on digital infrastructure What does that mean for Public Space? Flickr.com/timdan2
  3. 3. 1. Some notes on Urban Public Space 2. Infrastructure & Public Space - From the Village Pump to the BLVD 3. Digtial Infrastructure & Public Space: Dystopian Scenario: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ 4. Digtial Infrastructure & Public Space: Optimist Scenario: ‘Micro Public Places’ Pecs Kossuth Street 1888 flickr.com/photos/gabboo/
  4. 4. What are the functions of Urban Public Space? The City is a place full of strangers Yet we do somehow have to relate to all those other (and often different) people ‘Public Space as meeting ground’
  5. 5. 2. Infrastructure & Public Space - From the Village Pump to the BLVD Pecs Kossuth Street 1888 flickr.com/photos/gabboo/
  6. 6. Infrastructure as Public Space Water pump - Philippines ca 1900 -flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/
  7. 7. Infrastructure as Public Space Paris BLVDs by Haussmann (1852-1870 Motives: Sanitation Modernization Crowd Control (Canon shot boulevards) Optimizing Traffic Paris BLVD network by Haussmann - http://www.bricoleurbanism.org/whimsicality/urban-fabric-form-comparison/
  8. 8. Infrastructure as Public Space Paris BLVDs by Haussmann (1852-1870 Outcome: Flaneurs Meeting Ground Cafe Culture & Terraces Mingling of Classes Pissaro Avenue de l’Opera (Musée des Beaux Art, Reims)
  9. 9. BLVD Conclusion so far: Public Space is the ‘interface’ of urban society Public Space often ‘piggybacks’ on Infrastructure Urbanism but: This all sounds very ‘Paris 1890.’
  10. 10. Does a BLVD-Urbanism still hold now that is becoming the city a ‘hybrid city’? WIFI RFID Ubicomp GSM GPS Augmented CCTV Reality senseable.mit.edu
  11. 11. New Infrastructure paradigm: Smart City U-City Sentient City Real Time City IBM Smart Cities
  12. 12. Smart / Sentient / Real Time Cities: Sense what’s going on Aggregate, Store & Distribute these data Operate and Actuate Learn & Anticipate IBM Smart Cities
  13. 13. What kind of ‘public sphere’ is piggybacking on this infrastructure? IBM Smart Cities
  14. 14. 3. Digtial Infrastructure & Public Space: Dystopian Scenario: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ Pecs Kossuth Street 1888 flickr.com/photos/gabboo/
  15. 15. ‘Regimes of Access’ Stephen Graham & Mike Crang: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ & ‘Sentient Cities’
  16. 16. Dynamic Road Pricing Stephen Graham & Mike Crang: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ & ‘Sentient Cities’
  17. 17. CCTV & Face Recognition Stephen Graham & Mike Crang: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ & ‘Sentient Cities’
  18. 18. M-Commerce Stephen Graham & Mike Crang: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ & ‘Sentient Cities’
  19. 19. Discovery & Recommendation Sensenetworks.com
  20. 20. ‘Regimes of Access’ From Modernist idea of Citizen Universal Access To vs Postfordist idea of Consumer Infrastructure as Service
  21. 21. Towards a Software-Sorted City Stephen Graham & Mike Crang: ‘Splintering Urbanism’ & ‘Sentient Cities’
  22. 22. 4. Digtial Infrastructure & Public Space: Optimist Scenario: ‘Micro Public Places’ Pecs Kossuth Street 1888 flickr.com/photos/gabboo/
  23. 23. Publics form around ‘Shared issues of concern’ through and around new media infrastructures Frei and Böhlen, Situated Technologies Pamphlet 6: Micropublicplaces http://www.situatedtechnologies.net/?q=node/104
  24. 24. How can we use infrastructures that Sense what’s going on Aggregate, Store & Distribute these data Operate and Actuate Learn & Anticipate Be appropirated To Organize Publics around ‘Issues of Concern’?
  25. 25. Using The Internet of Things To bring out these ‘issues of concern’ MIT Senseable City Lab Trash Track http://senseable.mit.edu/trashtrack/
  26. 26. Challenge: How to move beyond representation And towards a sense of ‘ownership’ in the issue http://senseable.mit.edu/trashtrack/
  27. 27. In the Air (Medialab Prado) http://intheair.es/
  28. 28. Bringing ‘Issues’ back in Public Space In the Air (Medialab Prado) http://intheair.es/
  29. 29. Conclusions: From ‘Urban Mass’ to Issue Publics From Public Space to Public Spheres Fragmentation or Integration?
  30. 30. Thank You! The Mobile City www.themobilecity.nl Think tank on digital technology & urban culture Events Blog - Research Network martijn@themobilecity.nl flickr.com/photos/rawmusic/

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