WK10 – Sustainability and Sensing

According to Elliot and Urry, “the increasing mobilisation of the world – accelerating carbon-based movements of people, goods, services, ideas and information – affects the ways in which lives are lived, experienced and understood.” (Elliot and Urry, 2010: x). When people travel, they can connect to home, family or the wider world by using networked ICTs. The movement of information and data can also mobilise goods and services, for example, ordering a takeaway online. These issues paired with the fact ICTs have integrated into most people’s daily lives has increased the amount of mobile information, causing an expanding carbon footprint due to the manufactuing and maintenance of digitial infrastructure, such as server farms. As Elliot and Urry belive, this freedom of movement is costly to the planet and the planet (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 8), as seen above and with the immobilsation of people such as hotel workers who make life on the move “feasible. (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 4-5).
United Nations define sustainable development as meeting today’s needs without compromising future generations and building an inclusive, sustainable future (United Nations, 2017). Three core elements are economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection (UN, 2017) and can be applied to DecarboNet, a research project investigating social platform’s potential in mitigating climate change because it aims to empower citizens and provide knowledge (social inclusion), raise awareness and encourage citizens to reduce their energy consumption (environmental protection and economic growth). (DecarboNet, 2017).
DecarboNet uses news and social media to increase awareness about climate change and how citizens can take action. The project’s effectiveness is anaylysed by looking into how citizens participate and how more can be reached. (DecarboNet, 2017).
Elliot and Urry identify four scenarious for future mobilities; perpetual motion, local sustainability, regional warlordism and digital networks (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 141-150). Regional warlordism is a “barbaric climate change future” with oil, gas and water shortages where mobility, energy and communication connections breakdown. (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 145). While not preferable, they describe regional wardlordism as “probable” (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 147) and this is the future DecarboNet are working to avoid.

Elliot, A. and Urry, J. 2010. Mobile Lives. Oxford: Routledge. Pp. x-150.

DecarboNet. 2017. Home. DecarboNet. Available at : https://www.decarbonet.eu/ (Accessed 28/04/17).

United Nations, 2017. The Sustainable Development agenda. United Nations. Available at: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/ (Accessed 27/04/17).

Week 10 Sustainability and Sensing

Sustainability and Sensing

In the last 30 years, the world has witnessed a massive change and evolution especially in the IT sector. The pace in which this technological revolution has increased has influenced how people live, think or act. The constant need of always being mobile, reachable, accessible and having 24/7 access to information has become the lifestyle of over 3 billion people who have access to the technology and the internet. This concept of mobile lives, according to Elliott and Urry are lived, experienced and reflected upon in the course of day-to-day life (2010, p 155).

However, in order to experience this new lifestyle and all the benefit that technology is constantly bringing to its users, there has to be a constant production of new electronic equipment, adaptable infrastructure, transport etc . For example, faster cars, smartphones and tablets, personal computer, faster internet, smart buildings etc. On the positive note, these gadgets and tools are contributing to the concept of building smart cities around the world.

Smart city, “use modern digital technology to improve the quality of life and performance (Contributor, 3p, 2017). De Lange (2013) states that “the smart city taps into the potential of digital technologies to help solve urban issues. As it operates on mixed fields of digital and urban design it has to have a certain underlying take of the hybrid nature of cities, however implicit.” (p 1).

However, the UN Sustainable Development Goals states that “it is important to engage in this development process which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs “(2017). They emphasize on the importance of thinking about the future of our planet rather than simply creating and building for the present. One of the issues that is of a concern is climate change. This is due to the fact that is it already affecting the food, water, peace and security ( UN, 2017 ). Therefore, the UN Sustainable Development Goals have also state that if it is neglected,” it will roll back the development gains that is already been made over the last decades and will make further gains impossible” (2017).


 Contributor, 3p. “Smart Cities Enable Urban Sustainability”. Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

De Lange, Michiel. “The Smart City You Love To Hate”. http://www.bijt.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

Griggs, David et al. “Policy: Sustainable Development Goals For People And Planet”. Nature 495.7441 (2013): 305-307. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Netzband, Maik, Charles Redman, and William L Stefanov. Applied Remote Sensing For Urban Planning, Governance And Sustainability. 1st ed. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2007. Print.

UN. “Sustainable Development Goals”. Un.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.



Week 9 Drones

Our demand for constant connectivity and the consumption of large amounts of data is ever growing and providers are looking at new ways to service this demand in a Big Data society. While drone technology has traditionally been used as a surveillance-gathering tool it also has the ability to allow users to communicate over vast distances in real-time without disrupting or dropping the signal and processing large amounts of data at the same time. Jensen describes the ability to provide this type mobility service as ‘stretchiness’.

Using drone technology in this way is currently being explored to provide mobile Wi-Fi hotspots “with an equivalent of 4G smartphone connectivity … in remote areas where internet provision is bad or missing” (Jensen, 2016. PG 70) and was first explored by Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US to provide Internet connectivity on the battlefield. However others are exploring this idea in a civilian setting in the Britain the Department of Transport are discussing the use of drone technology to improve the wireless internet signals on trains (Paton, 2015) and “industry giants such as Google and Facebook are developing … solar panel airplanes to provide network infrastructure on a nation-wide scale.” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2). Facebook recently described the test flights, which will develop a new service to provide Internet access to developing nations as a great success due to the longevity of the flight duration (Hern, 2016).

Apart from the flexibility of mobility of using drone technology to provide an value added network connectivity in hard to reach / developing areas it also negates the issue of rebuilding / building a static infrastructure before providing a service “in disaster areas, ground network instalment is limited …due to various obstacles such as piles of debris.” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2). This technology has the ability to build a network infrastructure instantly. Furthermore the use of a Net-Drone (Internet Drone Technology) will help to optimize the performance of static based transmission as “The deployment of net-drone can improvise a network infrastructure… the service provider can utilize them to enhance the network” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2).



Hern, A. (2017). Facebook’s solar-powered drone under investigation after ‘accident’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/22/facebook-solar-powered-aquila-drone-under-investigation [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].

Jensen, O. (2016). Drone city – power, design and aerial mobility in the age of “smart cities”. Geographica Helvetica, 71(2), pp.67-75.

Park, K., Kang, J., Cho, B., Park, K. and Kim, H. (2016). Handover Management of Net-Drones for Future Internet Platforms. International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 12(3), p.5760245.

PATON, G., 2015, Jun 11. Drones could boost wi-fi on rail network Edition 2]. The Times, 2. ISSN 01400460.

W9 Drones

Drones are unmanned, aerial vehicles that are playing an increasingly important role in digital cities, and other spaces globally. Floreano and Wood believe drones could majorly impact civilian tasks, such as “transportation, communication, agriculture, disaster mitigation and environment preservation.” (Floreano and Wood, 2015: 460). Jensen echoes this, stating drones could affect power and mobility. (Jensen, 2016:.73). An example is seen across Africa, where drones are being used to deliver medical aid and supplies, as well as allowing access where roads cannot. (Flood, 2016). Here robotics company, Zipline have designed a drone to deliver parachutes of medical essentials without having to land (Flood, 2016), which has the potential to save lives. This is not the first time drones have been used like this. They were also utilised in search and rescue missions after Nepal’s 2015 earthquake (Sharma, 2016). Mbwana Alliy, founder of Savannah Fund, believes drones bring “exciting potential to marry the real and vast physical challenges of Africa with the digital revolution.” (Alliy in Flood, 2016).
However, it is simplistic to view drones in a purely utopian sense. The ethical issues do not disappear because we domesticate their use in spaces that are not war-torn. (Jensen, 2016: 68).
According to Bergen and Rothenberg, drones “involve new ways of projecting lethal force that challenge accepted rules, norms and moral understandings.”(Bergen and Rothenberg, 2014: 1). Drones are not always carrying aid. The use of drones as weapons in warzones, with people “killing at a distance” and attacking others while being in a different physical space, is very concerning. (Jenson, 2016: 68). Where drones have been used in warzones, to suddenly change their purpose and start using them for aid could alarm citizens, fearing it is another attack.
There are also concerns regarding surveillance, with Jensen describing drone cities are being difficult to regulate and drones themselves as having potential to “end public space as we know it” (Jensen, 2016: 67-73), and issues of airspace ownership. (Jain, 2015 in Jensen, 2016: 70).

Flood, Z. 2016. From killing machines to agents of hope: the future of drones in Africa. 27 July 2016. The Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/africas-drone-rwanda-zipline-kenya-kruger (Accessed 06/04/17).

Floreano, D. and Wood, R.J., 2015. Science, technology and the future of small autonomous drones. Nature. 521(7553). Pp.460-466.

Jensen, O., B. 2016. Drone city – power, design and aerial mobility in the age of “smart cities.” Geographica Helvetica. 71(67-75). Pp.67-73.

Sharma, G. 2016. Armed with drones, aid workers seek faster response to earthquakes. 15 May 2016. Reuters. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-humanitarian-summit-nepal-drones-idUSKCN0Y7003 (Accessed 06/04/17).

Bergen, P., & Rothenberg, D. (2014). Introduction. Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law and Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp.1.