Week 3 – Critical Perspectives on Data and the Smart City

For me, the headline of the BBC article encapsulates the general mood of excitement-verging-on-anxiety currently surrounding both the conceptual and physical nature of Smart Cities. There exists an ambivalence towards their current value as opportunities for new freedoms, communities and chances for a sustainable future:

“Tomorrow’s cities: Just how smart is Songdo?” (Williamson, 2013) sums it up; a statement, backed up by the technology that created it, followed by a hesitancy to commit fully to its promise (the word ‘but’, right in the middle of the two, would fit well).

As Sadowski and Pasquale state: “Calculating the costs and benefits of the innovation is a Sisyphean, and deeply ideological task,” (2015, pg.2). The mood is the same throughout many similar case studies on Smart Cities and Smart City Technology. From the likes of the aforementioned researchers, even: “experts are divided on whether it will spell doom or salvation for the environment,” (Lewis, 2016), and citizens who have had a tangible glimpse of the modern smart city still feel the same. After visiting a Singaporean Smart City, Wired journalist Sara Watson concluded: “the model is compelling in theory, on the ground the reality is not seamless,” (2017).

The purpose of Watson’s case study was to see if the anxiety of Brexit Britain might be assuaged by the promise of the Smart-City future – could one unconnected island nation thrive as an interconnected hub? The comparison is intriguing. Sadowski and Pasquale see cities “getting smart” as solutions for austerity, urban system management, and generating a new flow of capital; the motivations of doing so being of a political economic nature (2015, pg.3), much like Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

Funnily enough, it is the very sort of empowerment that many Brexit voters believe(d) they would be rewarded with that may be essential for the skepticism surround Smart Cities to disappear. Shaw and Graham write in depth about Henri Lefebre’s ‘right to the city’ philosophy; “a powerful conceptual weapon for the collective good – it can represent the right to change ourselves by changing the city,” (2017, pg.5). They discuss an ‘informational right’ to such cities; a movement that demands transparency about the technologies of Smart Cities and the massive amounts of data they collects from their citizens: “a rallying call for snatching back power from the political and technical elites who reconfigure the city as a platform for corporate smartness,” (pg.11).

So, while new communities can certainly be built, connected, and the potential for empowerment exists, these cities still have to be built by someone, or some-bodies: “These new cities, like Eko Atlantic in Lagos in Nigeria and Waterfall City (South Africa), bring a new model where urban governance is shared between the private and public sector,” says Mira Slavov (cited in Giles, 2018), from the London School of Economics (the potential sharing also between ’empowered’ citizens exempt from her statement). Slavov was referring specifically to African Smart Cities, including Vision City, where the average price of a property is beyond the majority of the country. And if empowerment is still only available only to those who can afford it, then surely it doesn’t exist (?).

Confusion certainly does exist, however, over the sustainability of Smart City Technology. Lewis (2016) writes about two ends to the eco-friendly spectrum; low-power, low-data transmitting devices existing side-by-side with energy-hungry, data-gobbling surveillance systems – ironically gathering the very information that feeds into the monetary industries that fund the cities’ growth (Shaw & Graham, pg.8).

It seems clear that as Smart Cities develop, the belief in their development is itself a work in progress. Simultaneously interpreted as ‘Tomorrow’s Cities’, while being quizzed on their real capabilities and underlying intentions, the potential of freedom, community and sustainability remains open. As Charles Taylor states (in Sadowski and Pasquale, pg.10); “interpretation ‘is an attempt to make clear, to make sense of an object of study’ that is in ‘some way confused, incomplete, cloudy, seeming contradictory – in one way or another, unclear’.”

This is where we appear to be with Smart Cities. They may be for ‘tomorrow’, but they have not truly been accepted, yet, today.

Bibliography:

Giles, C., (2018). African ‘smart cities:’ A high-tech solution to overpopulated megacities?. CNN. [online resource, accessed Feb 2018]. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/12/africa/africa-new-smart-cities/index.html

Lewis, D., (2016). Will the internet of things sacrifice or save the environment?. Guardian. [online resource, accessed Feb 2018]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/dec/12/will-the-internet-of-things-sacrifice-or-save-the-environment

Sadowksi, Pasquale, (2015). The spectrum of control: A social theory of the smart city. First Monday: 20: 7: 6.

Shaw, J., Graham, M., (2017). Our Digital Rights to the City. Meatspace Press.

Watson, S., (2017). What the UK can learn from Singapore’s smart city. Wired. [online resource, accessed Feb 2018]. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/sara-watson-singapore-smart-cities

Williamson, L., (2013). Tomorrow’s cities: Just how smart is Songdo? BBC. [online resource, accessed Feb 2018]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23757738

 

Week 3 – Data and the smart city: Critical perspectives

A smart city like Songdo screams potential from every angle and perspective. Processes like interactivity and automation through digitalization can improve the daily lives of a city’s inhabitants as they can reduce stress caused by everyday frictions (easy commutes to work), promote diversity (embedding technologies in the city to support people with sight loss) facilitating access to participation and citizenship (through quick and efficient e-government and the use of data for decision-making) and perhaps most relevant in the context of the Agenda 2030, provide the tools for sustainable development (greener approach to waste management). However, according to these articles in the BBC and Le Monde this particular case study of the Korean city of Songdo seems to be more of a lesson learned on how not to conceptualize and develop smart cities.

Every aspect described above that seemed to make Songdo appealing has not effectively materialized as initially planned for this 40 billion dollar city, and furthermore, these aspects of digitalization are not as straightforward as they seem to be. Is Songdo reason for existing only based on embracing technology for technology’s sake? Is the digitalization of a city like Songdo just intended to improve mundane aspects of our lives or are there ulterior implications that affect our citizenship rights and responsibilities?

As insightful as these articles may be, according to various authors in Our Digital Rights to the City and The Spectrum of Control: A Social Theory of the Smart City, there is much more to read and interpret from them than initially meets the eye.

Before diving into the issue of data which is prevalent in this week’s readings, let’s look into some interesting concepts brought to our attention in the news articles, and link them to the readings mentioned above.

Songdo is what Sadowski (The spectrum of control) calls a smart city built from scratch. In this case, a smart city where intelligence is not fostered or collected from its inhabitants but from the digital hardware that make up the Internet of Things. As described by the BBC “And that’s because the city is currently less than half full; less than 20% of the commercial office space is occupied, and the streets, cafes and shopping centres still feel largely empty”.

Going back to last week’s reading on Townsend, “We need to empower ourselves to build future cities organically, from the bottom up, and do it in time to save ourselves from climate change.” (Townsend, page 18)

What Townsend is saying might be easier applied in the case of cities that are retrofitted and renovated from dumb to smart. This is not the case in this city built from scratch where there is no citizenry to begin with. One may argue that faced with the shocking statistics presented by the UN on the exponential growth of cities, countries like Korea are facing this issue head-on, and in a sustainable way, by addressing needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtwald Report). All of this achieved through the development of green housing and infrastructure.

Sustainability, however, encompasses much more than green development as defined above. This complex and rich concept includes social aspects such as diversity and gender. However, as described in Le Monde,Sterile and soul-less, the city looks different from Korean cities. There are no poor people, no street vendors, no old people.” This sterility embodies not only the absence of people but for those who have decided to call Songdo their home, the lack of diversity which sets the stage for a city that might not be sustainable in the long run for a more varied type of citizenry.

The lack of means of transportation to and from the city are also a concern from a sustainability point of view. As referenced in the BBC article, “Despite being next to South Korea’s main international airport, transport links into the capital itself are rudimentary, and the incentives for companies moving to a new smart city don’t always outweigh the costs.” How is the city expected to grow and to serve the needs of current and future generations if it is being developed without these considerations?

Even with regards to green infrastructure, the city of Songdo does not seem to tackle that issue very smartly, as mentioned in Le Monde, “The buildings are totally transparent and it is impossible to open the windows”. “In summer and winter the air conditioning is on all the time. I wonder if I don’t use more than before”. She herself had not seen the link between smart city and environment.” 

The articles describe a city booming with technological innovation, a digital landscape almost devoid of people. The city’s infrastructure has developed quicker than the actual need and appeal to move to the city, as well as the surrounding infrastructures such as means of transport that connect Songdo to Seoul. Especially in Le Monde’s description, it is an engineers dream of a modern and futuristic city, but ultimately lacking the ability to enable interactions between people and things.

An article in Datafloq further describes the big data capabilities of Songdo and the promises it intends to deliver. According to the article, surveillance and traffic control are obvious reasons behind data monitoring, but Songdo aims for more. Climate, energy consumption, leisure activities and water consumption will be monitored by data capturing systems. These systems feed off of people and their activities, habits, actions. Companies might understandably not feel compelled to move their operations to Songdo, especially considering the promises of surveillance and data monitoring are not quite appealing in city with a population less than half of the originally intended.

According to Le Monde: “Songdo is also a town under constant surveillance: 500 cameras ensure total grid coverage to regulate the traffic or detect ‘suspicious’ behaviour. Even the opening of a sewer cover is immediately notified to the IFEZ management centre in one of the towers in Songdo. “We work in close collaboration with the police, but the data are not kept for more than thirty days”.

This last comment regarding data used for policing ties strongly to Sadowski’s section on The hard power of policing technologies. Smart cities are relying in technology and big data with the excuse of using non-violent means for crowd control and ensuring the safety of their citizens. But “technological means threaten to even prevent crowds from forming in the first place, thus moving from reactionary to prophylactic strategies.” (Sadowski, The Spectrum of Control). The use of big data to justify decisions without context or knowledge of historical patterns or trends might result in dangerous and unjust rulings and also go against a citizen’s basic right to assemble and protest.

The infrastructure in Songdo is laid out for data collection in every front, however, the issue of consent is a prevalent one in discussions regarding the use of big data by governments and organizations. Sadowski warns future architects of smart cities “without consistent citizen consultation and serious penalties for misuse of data, their apparatus of omniveillance could easily do more harm than good.” But even before addressing the issue of consent, when building a city from scratch like Sondgo, government officials, town planners and engineers should keep in mind that every city requires its citizenry to exist. Cities require people’s empowerment and participation to make the city before making the data. As Sadowski says “We make the city, and the city makes us. In a time when the urban environment is crisscrossed, undergirded, and overlaid with digitality, the corollary is: We make data, and  data makes us. We thus have—and must claim hold of—“the right to command the whole urban process.” (Sadowski, page 10-11)

Shelton continues this line of thought by referring to a process of knowledge production within cities that start from the ground up: “In order to attain the right to both participation in, and appropriation of, the city, citizens must be free to understand the city and construct their own knowledges and representations of it.” (Shelton, page 27)

Participation and community engagement are also building blocks of sustainability, and in the world we are living in with a growing population and unprecedented development, the digitaliization of cities, either from the ground up or as a transition from dumb to smart, should take these perspectives into consideration.

References:

Sadowski, J (2017) ‘Access denied: Snapshorts of exclusion and enforcement in the smart city’ in Shaw, J and Graham, M. ed. Our Digital rights to the citypp 6-11. Meatspace Press [Free access, available to download, read online or self print]

Sadowski, J. and Pasquale, F. (2015). The Spectrum of Control: A Social Theory of the Smart City.’ First Monday 20(7): Available at URL: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/5903/4660

Shaw, J and Graham, M (2017) ‘An informational Right to the City?’ in Shaw, J and Graham, M. ed. Our Digital rights to the city, pp. 1-5. Meatspace Press [Free access, available to download, read online or self print]

Shelton, T (2017) ‘Repoliticizing data, in Shaw, J and Graham, M. ed. Our Digital rights to the citypp 24-27. Meatspace Press [Free access, available to download, read online or self print]

Townsend, A.M., 2013. Smart Cities, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. xi-18. 

BBC 2013 Tomorrow’s cities. Just how smart is Songdo?  (2/9/13) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23757738

Le Monde 2017 Songdo, a city for the affluent http://www.lemonde.fr/smart-cities/article/2017/05/29/songdo-ghetto-for-the-affluent_5135650_4811534.html

The Smart City Of The Future Will Bring Big Data To A New Level https://datafloq.com/read/smart-city-future-bring-big-data-level/183

Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development Our Common Future http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/PoliticaExteriorCooperacion/Desarrollosostenible/Documents/Informe%20Brundtland%20(En%20ingl%C3%A9s).pdf

Week 2 – Smart Cities and Digital Culture

For this week’s blogpost, I will explain how Arup’s the future of the future built environment – Data cities relates to specific concepts from Townsend’s (2013) ‘Smart Cities’ book and from Miller’s (2011) ‘Key Elements of Digital Culture’.

By 2050, United Nations projections indicate, the urban population will expand to nearly 6.5 billion. By 2100, global population could top 10 billion, and cities could be home to as many as 8 billion people.” (Anthony M. Townsend)

The initial preconceptions of this new world, digitalised and interconnected through a international network of people, seemed to indicate that we could allow even more  geographical and physical distance between us, as technology was bringing us together through online digital technologies. Why move to Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Nairobi or Kuala Lumpur if I can stay away from large cities and still be immersed in cultural and social networks through my laptop or mobile phone?

As Townsend notes, “It seems counterintuitive that the growth of cities and the spread of information technology are so strongly linked.” (Townsend, page 6). However, cities are growing fast, and some of them within countries taking technological leaps with regards to their own development. Providing even more shocking statistics of this urban exponential growth, we learnt that “in 2001, China’s announced plans to build twenty new cities each year through 2020, to accommodate an estimated 12 million migrants arriv­ing annually from rural areas.” (Townsend, page 2).

Clearly, digital media, technology and the internet have not made cities a thing of the past. Quite the opposite, we are moving towards a more urbanised world immersed in digital culture.

Arup’s video on the future of the digital built environment illustrates how these cities will look like, and in many case, are already visible in many major cities. Arup discusses how the digital is changing the way we move around in these growing cities. This is where the digital becomes tangible through smart parking and smart buildings, and reversely, the physical incorporates the digital, evidenced in how architecture is now being conceived. A building can no longer be limited to the traditional definition of housing. Architects must now start including digital strategies in early stages of their planning of projects, meaning they must work beyond their scope and areas of expertise, including other disciplines and stakeholders in their designs. The video describes smart or digital cities not only from the perspective of a user interacting with a screen but in actual outputs and outcomes that can improve people’s lives, if technology is steered in the right direction.

By reading both Anthony Townsend’s Smart Cities, and Vincent Miller’s Key Elements of Digital Culture, we can dig deeper into what the Arup team refers to when discussing how technology changes interactivity amongst people. Townsend analyses the nature and nuances of how people and things are interconnecting with each other in these growing metropolis. Miller’s work on understanding digital culture describes the “technical processes (which) refer to the technological building blocks of digital media, cultural forms (which) refer to the ways in which digital media objects are created, encountered and used, and immersive experience (which) refers to the environments that digital media can create.” (Miller, page 14) The concept of interactivity as described by Miller is also useful to understand the new interactions taking place in these digital cities illustrated by Arup. According to Miller, the best definition for interactivity is provided by Jensen (1998): ‘A measure of media’s potential ability to let the user exert an influence on the context and/or form of the mediated communication’ (Miller, page 16). Arup’s digital cities are governed by this interactivity as its citizens rely increasingly more on digital media to mediate and influence their relationship with the environment around them.

Townsend defines smart cities as “places where information technology is wielded to address problems old and new. In the past, buildings and infrastructure shunted the flow of people and goods in rigid, predetermined ways. But smart cities can adapt on the fly, by pulling readings from vast arrays of sensors, feeding that data into software that can see the big picture, and taking action. They opti­mize heating and cooling in buildings, balance the flow of electricity through the power grid, and keep transportation networks moving. Sometimes, these interventions on our behalf will go unnoticed by humans, behind the scenes within the wires and walls of the city. But at other times, they’ll get right in our face, to help us solve our shared problems by urging each of us to make choices for the greater good of all.” (Townsend, preface xii)

This relates to the statements made by the Arup team who talk about how in these growing cities people are using technology to make their lives easier. They give examples of how people need access to information to get to their destinations through other routes or other means of transport if required. Or the concept of smart parking that aims at reducing friction in people lives.

But where is this information coming from? How does this relate to the building blocks of digital media described by Miller? In Understanding Digital Media – Key Elements of Digital Culture, Miller reminds us of the importance of databases, and how they permeate our daily interactions with people and things, becoming almost ubiquitous. “We tend to associate databases with computerised record-keeping systems or cumbersome workplace spreadsheets, but in actuality the spread of databases into everyday life and digital culture is pervasive, despite going relatively unnoticed. Online travel maps are one example, but it is the case that every web site, every online service, and the very internet itself, is a database. This leads Manovich (2001) to suggest that databases are becoming a, if not the, dominant cultural form of our times, and that ‘almost every practical act involves choosing from some menu, catalogue, or database’ (Manovich, 2001: 128).” (Miller page 20-21)

In spite of the many wonders described by Arup with regards to smart cities, they do something even more interesting by closing with a question, or perhaps a warning. What are the outcomes we are looking to achieve with technology and with the arise of these digital cities? Or should we focus on technology for technology’s sake? A good question to ask, especially by a predominantly engineer-staffed organisation that aims to Shape a Better World.

Townsend also challenges technocratic hegemony when it comes to the development of our cities. He too warns communities and leaders not to relinquish their ownership and accountability.  “We need to take the wheel back from the engineers, and let people and communities decide where we should steer.” (Townsend)

He goes even further by describing smart cities as “places where information technology is combined with infrastructure, architecture, everyday objects, and even our bodies to address social, economic, and environmental problems.(…) We need to empower ourselves to build future cities organically, from the bottom up, and do it in time to save ourselves from climate change.” (Townsend)

Thanks to Miller, Townsend and the team at Arup, we are introduced to the topics of digital media and smart cities. After reading the material and watching the video, it seems to me that perhaps one of the themes or questions that should remain in my mind throughout this course is, beyond the wonders of modern technologies and the new and interesting ways we can live our lives and communicate with each other, what outcomes can humanity achieve through the rise of digital cities and what do those journeys look like in such a diverse world?

 

References:

Townsend, A.M., 2013. Smart Cities, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. xi-18.

Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. Sage: pp 12-2

Arup, The future built environment, http://video.arup.com/?v=1_ti3l9h7q

Week 1 – Introduction to Digital Cities

Hello everyone. My name is Mercedes and I am enrolled in the distance learning MA on Digital media, Culture and Society. I am a sociologist, originally from Argentina, currently living in Denmark, working for the United Nations Office for Project Services as a Knowledge Management and Communications specialist. I have also worked in other UN agencies as well as the private sector, where I focused on bridging the digital gap through online educational platforms for children and adults. This MA will support my career development by expanding my knowledge and understanding of how digital media impacts development. Digital cities is my first module. I am a late arrival to the course so I hope to catch up with everything fast and look forward to the semester.

I work for the Infrastructure and Project Management Group within UNOPS and I find that this module in particular addresses many issues my team is struggling to comprehend such as the relationships between infrastructure assets and systems, with concepts like governance and social justice. I look forward to exploring this and going back to my team with some solutions to the many issues raised by our partners. The challenge we have in the development sector is introducing concepts such as digital cities to developing countries who barely have the infrastructure required to service a population with the basic needs such as water, electricity, plumbing, schools and clinics. However, the focus on Sustainable Development Goals for the Agenda 2030 presents an opportunity for countries to start planning their infrastructure roadmaps in a sustainable way, ensuring the path is laid out to build towards a better and sustainable future.

Regarding the numerous links and reading material I accessed so far, I must say I am not shocked but constantly amazed at how much innovation is happening around the topic of digital or smart cities. I always considered myself to be pretty much on top of these issues but I have a feeling this module is going to take me on a wild ride through the “internet of things.”

Regarding the topics of the course, I look forward to Sustainability and Sensing Cities as it seems to be very relevant to my current role in UNOPS.

Finally, along with a full-time job, I have a 1 year-old daughter. I recognize the challenges I am facing with so many things going on in my life but I am committed to this module and this course. Any tips from any working parents out there is appreciated!

Week 2: Smart Cities & Digital Culture

For the purposes of this blog post, I will explain how concepts from Townsend’s 2013 ‘Smart Cities’, and Miller’s 2011 ‘Understanding Digital Culture’, relate to Future Catapult’s 2014 ‘Cities Unlocked: Realising the potential of people and places’ project.

The primary purpose of the Cities Unlocked project was to use an ambitious combination of smart city data and technology to provide social solutions to the challenges faced by people with sight loss. Creating more opportunities for more people people to safely, confidently and comfortably engage with their environment acknowledges not only Townsend’s prediction (pg.2) that up to 8 billion people could be living in cities by the end of this century, but that: “Smart cities need to … preserve opportunities for spontaneity, serendipity, and sociability,” (pg.16).

Townsend also states that: “smart cities must bee viewed holistically,” (pg.15) – and this is the exact approach that Future Cities Catapult took with their research (2014, pg.7); using a combination of existing mobile technologies, used and tested by the very people the research sought to benefit, in order to develop a headset which communicates with mobile applications and the environment to create a 3-D, augmented reality soundscape.

Although the development of the headset was the focal point of the research, fundamental to its success were the use of, and diversity of a range of decentralised, but networked devices (Miller, 2011, pg.15). These devices influenced choice, decision-making, and the design of future route-planning and associated technology that will be required to fully realise the project.

Subsequently, the headset was developed during by utilising the same symbiosis between cities and information that Townsend acknowledges has existed for thousands of years (2013, pg.4).

Looking at this process closely, we can even see Miller’s three major themes of digital media developing; the ‘technical processes’ are the building blocks of mobile technology and sensory communication required to make the project possible; the cultural forms are the way they are used in the environment by the test subjects with sight loss, and the immersive experience is the 3-D soundscape created to enhance their quality of life (2011, pg.14). The project also taps substantially into Miller’s second and third themes of ‘interactivity’; the sociological and psycho-socially orientated aspects of how this interactivity with digital media benefits the user (2011, pg.16). Future Cities Catapult even highlight that physical, emotional and even spiritual wellbeing are all aspects of life the project was created to improve (2014, pg.18). Along with the ‘holistic’ methods they used in undertaking the research, I find the acknowledgment of a more ethereal human trait – spiritual wellbeing – a pleasant surprise, when we’re essentially discussing the use of innovative digital technologies.

Townsend states that Smart Cities: “need to be open and participatory, but provide enough support for those who lack the resources to self-organize,” (2013, pg.16). Cities Unlocked is a project that gives partially-sighted people an invaluable resource to organise their lives on a larger scale, providing them with the opportunity to: “see, touch and feel [cities] in completely new ways,” (Townsend, 2013, pg.9).

489 Words

Bibliography:

MADDEN, P., LEAMAN, R. & CORRIGAN, N. 2014. Cities Unlocked: Realising the potential of people & places. In: CATAPULT, F. C. (ed.). [online resource] accessed February 2018. Available at http://futurecities.catapult.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/CUReport_WEB.pdf
MILLER, V. 2011. Understanding Digital Culture. Key Elements of Digital Media. London: Sage.
TOWNSEND, A. 2013. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Digital Cities Week 1: Digital Cities & Me

I work in communications for a brand design agency based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. I regularly engage with UK and European Digital and Smart City organisations on their marketing, advertising, and creative communication projects.

The embedded image is an example of one of the many such communication projects involving one of our regular clients, EIT Digital. The Pan-European organisation operate in affiliation with a range of education establishments and startups, scaleups, and industry partners, shaping Europe’s digital transformation.

Leading their digital transformation with five “Action Lines” (Digital Wellbeing, Infrastructure, Finance, Industry, and, of course, Cities), they are a multi-location organisation dedicated to digital transformation.

Naturally, an important aspect of my job is to research, and display an understanding of what they do in the communications I create for them (or the communications would, quite simply, not communicate!).

This research has provided me with an insight and significant intrigue into the transformation of cities into Digital Cities, influencing and encouraging technologically-linked-collaboration between governing bodies, public services, local industry and the general population.

Subsequently, Sustainability and Sensing Cities, during Week 10, is an enticing topic, not only to my development as an academic, but by career in communications. City Dashboards and Open Data also significantly interests me, especially as I am contemporaneously studying Big Data this semester, while 3D Printing will give me something to chat to my engineering-minded Dad over dinner. And finally, Digital Urban Gaming stimulates the gaming-nerd inside me, currently being suppressed by a relentless combination of work and study.

Through work I am also familiar with the UK Catapult organisation, including Future Cities Catapult (although I didn’t realise Brighton was home to one of the Catapult’s many locations!). Like EIT Digital, their work is about building Digital Cities as a culture, as opposed to more bureaucratic decision making without the collaborative influence of other actors, including citizens.

After watching several of the suggested videos linked to Week 1, I was interested, but not entirely shocked, to find there is a belief that the United States appears to be behind other countries in recognising the potential impact of Digital Cities, and I thoroughly enjoyed the IBM animation – it’s the exact sort of infographic animation we’d be proud of at work.

Finally, hi everyone, I’m looking forward to studying with you for the next few weeks.

Simon