I was a little apprehensive about jumping head first into the Digital Cities module when I first enrolled in this MA, as I thought it would not be the best way to start my journey through Digital Media, Culture and Society, but now I am so glad I did. This module reflects exactly what is happening around me right now, as my work is related to Infrastructure for development. How does digital media intertwine with our cities? How do our cities embed digital media? How are cities now planned around digitalization? How does digitalization address real issues, with real people in real cities? There are so many questions presented to us through this module that I had never even thought of asking, and the answers to those questions are just as surprising and enriching.
Our first introduction to Smart Cities was through Anthony Townsend (2013). His definition of 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, 2013, page 18)
This made things click for me and made me understand what this module was about. We will be looking at innovations in digital media and the many ways we can engage with cities through technology, but we will also be looking into case studies to understand how things should and should not be implemented, as well as all the stakeholders involved in the making of a digital city.
Unfortunately, I was not able to join the class for the Arup field trip, but I was lucky enough to go to Arup on duty travel and see first hand how innovative and forward-thinking these “bunch of engineers” are when it comes to approaching projects from a digital lens.
We looked into policing technologies through Sadowski, in The Spectrum of Control (2015). We analyzed Code/Space understanding it “occurs when software and the spatiality of everyday life become mutually constituted, that is, produced through one another. Here, spatiality is the product of code, and the code exists primarily in order to produce a particular spatiality.” (Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011, page 16). We had fun with locative narrative and gaming. We wondered at how cities use dashboards to analyze, manage, and plan. We looked at the many uses and implementations of drone technology, from surveillance to actual delivery of products. We marveled at the potential of 3-D printing.
All of this newly acquired knowledge, for me, culminated in one of our last lessons regarding Sustainability. The SDGs are a big part of my daily work and the fact that countries are harnessing the power of digital media to address sustainable development goal targets is what inspired me to decide on the topic of my final assessment. I look forward to completing this assignment and sharing it within my colleagues as well, mostly engineers, mostly male, who would benefit from understanding the complexities of digital/smart cities and the complexities around infrastructure beyond the construction aspect.
- Townsend, A.M., 2013. Smart Cities, New York: W. W. Norton & Company. xi-18.
- Arup, The future built environment, http://video.arup.com/?v=1_ti3l9h7q
- 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
- Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011. Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press: