Week 8: Digital Urban Gaming (Miriam Harvey)

This week’s topic is mobile phone games, but in this blog post the usual case study of Pokemon Go has been replaced. At the time of writing this, in England, bumping into people in the street while being distracted playing Pokemon Go would be highly inappropriate. However our mobile phones are playing along in a huge collaborative endeavour. They are providing location-data which we see displayed, as a population, in televised government briefings (Figure 1) in a way that feels like a game score board. The rules of the game are to be seen (digitally, by providing location-data) in the right location ie residential is good and transit stations bad.

Mobility slide showing Google Mobility Data (UK)

Figure 1: Mobility slide for UK Government briefing on 23 May 2020 (Gov.UK, 2020). Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/slides-and-datasets-to-accompany-coronavirus-press-conferences


The next step in the gamification of daily life is to move from population level surveillance to player level, through a contact-tracing app. Schechner and Strasburg (2020) provide a good explanation of current international debates on some governments’ centralised vs Google/Apple’s decentralised approaches, with the Bluetooth and location services options illustrated in a video-game style animation (Figure 2).

Joanna Stern video on Covid19 contract tracing app as a game 20/05/20

Figure 2: Tracking apps explained using video game style animation (Schechner and Strasburg, 2020). Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-google-start-to-win-over-europe-to-their-virus-tracking-technology-11589716800


Contact-tracing apps are based on mobile phones exchanging a key or token with other mobile phones within a certain proximity to each other. This transfer could be understood as a “co-surveillance mechanism” which de souza e Silva and Sutko (2009:15) refer to in the context of “mobile location-aware games” (Ibid, p2). The contact-tracing apps fits their definition of such games (pp. 3-4) as “(1) they use the city space as the game board, and (2) they use mobile devices as interfaces for game play”. They are “pervasive games” that “never stop and may intertwine with the player’s ordinary life”. They are a form of “Location-based mobile games (LBMGs)” whose “distinct characteristic […] is that they use mobile technologies with location awareness […] as the game interface”.

The question to end on is what is the role of the human player? The mobile devices are communicating with each other, but they need to be carried by their human users as they move through the urban space. The game’s purpose is to warn players when they may have been infected, and therefore need to isolate to break the virus’ chain of transmission. The reward for participating could be understood using Foth et al’s (2016:15-16) idea of “citizens at play” and their “civic capital” which they define as “a measure of a citizen’s actual and potential impact on contributing, participating and engaging in the civic surrounds”.

Contact-tracing app users are ‘citizens at play’.




Foth, M., Hudson-Smith, A., and Gifford, D. (2016). Smart cities, social capital, and citizens at play: A critique and a way forward. In Olleros, F. X. & Zhegu, M. (Eds.) Research Handbook on Digital Transformations. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, United Kingdom, pp. 203-221.

Gov.UK (2020). Slides, datasets and transcripts to accompany coronavirus press conferences. Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Guidance and support. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/slides-and-datasets-to-accompany-coronavirus-press-conferences

Schechner, S. and Strasburg. J. (2020). Apple, Google Start to Win Over Europe to Their Virus-Tracking Technology. Wall Street Journal (Online); New York, N.Y. Updated 20 May 2020. Available at https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-google-start-to-win-over-europe-to-their-virus-tracking-technology-11589716800

de Souza e Silva, A. and Sutko, D. M. (2009). Digital cityscapes: merging digital and urban playspaces. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York. pp. 1-17.



Week 10 – Sustainability, Mobility, Utopia and Sensing Cities

When the society is developed, there is a growth in mobility system. According to Elliott & Urry (2010), in today’s society, people are connected with each other not only through constant mobility and face-to-face encounters, but also via travelling messages and objects. The societies can cope with distance thanks to different processes, two of which are virtual travel and communicative travel via letters, texts or telephones. This is how the society deals with social-distancing solution due to COVID-19 pandemic. The disease forces people to cut down on face-to-face interaction as much as possible to halt the spread. “The investment of affect into virtual objects (eg Facebook, Skype, etc) comprises a part of a “containment of anxiety’, which comes to the fore in conditions of complex mobile and digital life” (Elliott & Urry, 2010, p.21). Thanks to technology, people can deal with the social-distancing campaign.

Elliott and Urry (2010) suggest that one of the future scenarios is the emergence of hypermobility, which means there will be a significant development in mobile lives thanks to new transportation and communication practices. Telepresencing will become ubiquitous as it allows interactions to occur across different areas effortlessly. This concurs with the situation in the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, people still have a high demand of meeting each other in person as meeting online never replaces real-life interaction, but the dangerous level of the disease does not allow people to easily make any face-to-face appointments. Therefore, technology will be developed to meet people’s demand. For example, tele-immersion environments enable users to work or interact with each other in a shared and simulated environments. According to Elliott and Urry (2010:150), “the shock of climate change may tip societies into these kinds of digital network and a post-car future”.



Elliott, A., & Urry, J. (2010). Mobile lives. Routledge.

Week 9 – Drones

“Drones” is the term that some experts refrain from using as it connotes the meaning of killing from distance in the war of western areas. In this case we want to regard “drones” as “a new dimension of real-time surveillance information in the contemporary city on a more general level” (Jensen, 2016, p.68). However, the ethical problems associated with drone technology do not disappear thanks to our effort to domesticate or naturalize the term in the peaceful era. In other places, Foucault (2003) suggests that this can be considered western government’s techniques and their testing in foreign areas, which is then brought back to domestic areas. There are many political and ethical issues related to drone technologies as there are some controversies around civil rights and privacy when drones are utilized in public. Obviously, using drones as surveillance can save a huge amount of money and can serve humanitarian purposes, like providing assistance in disaster zones. Nevertheless, when thinking about the situations where drones are officially used for city surveillance, there are some cautions arising. To create the flying path for drones, we need to organize and control the air traffic like what we do with airplanes. This can cause some issues, one of which is safety as drones can crash each other. Another concern is privacy. Although NoFly-Zone company has brought about the system that can make the drones not fly to restricted areas, the system can be hacked, as a drone is just a flying computer (Goodman, 2013). The case study of Mitchell Sipus (2014) has explored the three-dimension understanding of urban areas. Specifically, it is necessary to perceive cities in both two-dimension and three-dimension ways, as the volumes and voids in-between the buildings require planners to imagine the space. The appearance of drone surveillance activates a rethinking of urban areas and mobile circumstances.


Foucault, M., & Ewald, F. (2003). ” Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976 (Vol. 1). Macmillan.

Goodman, M. (2013). A view from the unfriendly skies: How criminals are using drones. TED. com.

Jensen, O. B. (2016). Drone city-power, design and aerial mobility in the age of” smart cities”. Geographica Helvetica71(2), 67.

Sipus, M. (2014). Zoning and Urban land use planning for drones, available at: http://www.thehumanitarianspace.com/2014/08/ zoning-and-urban-land-use-planning-for.html

Week 8: Digital Urban Gaming

I’ve interviewed my friend about his experience when playing Pokemon Go. He said that “When playing this game, I naturally do more exercise by walking around and be more aware of my surrounding. Sometimes, thanks to Pokemon Go, I know the places in my area that I haven’t noticed before”. Foth and Gifford (2016)

(Foth, Hudson-Smith, Gifford, 2016: P.20)

(Foth, Hudson-Smith, Gifford, 2016: P.20)

(Foth, Hudson-Smith, Gifford, 2016: P.20) believe that Preliminal games aims to promote a platform that make players more motivated to reconnect with their surroundings and activate their exploration about the parts of environment where they may not have visited. This kind of game brings about some supplementary factors via associating the city’s streets with environment built virtually, which allows players to have new experiences when discovering these spaces. Importantly, the places are not replaced by the new ones. Instead, it just augment the space so that the users can experience something new in their existing surrounding. Thanks to their interaction with the locations in reality, the player appreciate their landscape more.

My friend also shared that the time restriction in the game makes him more engaged and try hard to gain the items in the limited period of time. According to Foth and Gifford (2016), this use of constraint make the game more engaging and challenging. They conclude the benefits of this game is that it not only helps players to do exercise and connect with the social space, but also helps local enterprises to have more customers thanks to the boosted footfall.

However, my friend said that sometimes he was too focused on playing the game and therefore neglected his real social interaction. “Pokémon GO recalls issues relating to mobility, sociability, spatiality, and surveillance that are characteristic of many previous hybrid reality games and mobile location-based applications.” This concurs with the belief of Hjorth (2017, P.5), who suggests that Pokemon GO can be used to allow players to avoid engagement with other people in public places. Furthermore, there are also some dangers in terms of information about location. This can enables the robbers to know exactly the location of people to commit the crime.



Foth, M., Hudson-Smith, A. & Gifford, D., 2016. Smart cities, social capital, and citizens at play: A critique and a way forward. In Research Handbook on Digital Transformations. Cheltenham,: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 203–221.

Hjorth, L. & Richardson, I., 2017. Pokémon GO : Mobile media play, place-making, and the digital wayfarer. Mobile Media & Communication, 5(1), pp.3–14.

Week 10: Sustainability, Mobility and Utopia (Miriam Harvey)

Elliot and Urry (2010) start their book ‘Mobile Lives’ by defining a broad scope for mobility as an “ever-increasing movement of people, things, capital, information and ideas around the globe”. They state that “the argument of the book is that … the increasing mobilization of the world … affects the ways in which lives are lived, experienced and understood” (ix-xi).

Elliot and Urry look at the “complex interplay between mobile lives and mobility systems”. Mobility systems are defined as being “from the car system to air travel, from networked computers to mobile phones”. Of particular interest (to me) is how these systems change people’s lives. Elliot and Urry observe that:

“Life ‘on the move’ is the kind of life in which the capacity to be ‘elsewhere’ at a different time from others is central. … Such mobile lives demand flexibility, adaptability, reflexivity — to be ready for the unexpected, to embrace novelty”.

Ten years after Elliot and Urry published their book, the world is experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic. In early April 2020 it was reported that “half of the world’s population” were subject to “compulsory or recommended confinements, curfews and quarantines in more than 90 countries or territories” (Sandford, 2020). Elliot and Urry’s future scenarios, such as a “a worldwide reconfiguration of economy and society around ‘local sustain-ability’ (2010:142) no longer appears as extreme and improbable as it would have pre-Covid-19.

Local sustainability (Elliot and Urry, 2010: 142-147) is presented as a Utopian vision, with a “’Happy Planet Index’”, but it presumes that there is only a physical existence and no other forms of communication. The ‘digital network’ scenario (Ibid. 147-150) is an alternative but not considered as complementing ‘local sustainability’. In current times, the size (distance) of individual’s physical circle has contracted at the same time as an increase in mobility via digital communication devices and platforms. For example, MPs are now participating from home in Parliament (figure 1) or Cabinet (figure 2) sessions, and in this way they have demonstrated new combinations of physical and network mobility.

UK Gov virtual PMQ session

Figure 1: BBC image of UK Parliament’s PMQ session operating with MPs participating via screens. Source: ‘Prime Minister’s Questions goes ‘virtual’’ on 22 April 2020 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-52390054/coronavirus-prime-minister-s-questions-goes-virtual [accessed 2 May 2020]


Tweet by PM Boris Johnson on digital Cabinet

Figure 2: Tweet by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the first digital Cabinet meeting (31 March 2020). Source: https://twitter.com/borisjohnson/status/1244985949534199808 [accessed 2 May 2020]


MPs are obviously not the only people working from home, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS, 2020) reporting an increase of home working from 12% to 49% for adults in employment. If this number is reflected across the country, there will be a lot of people questioning why they need to return to time consuming, expensive and polluting commutes post-Covid-19, if they can work just as well (or better) from home. Some aspects of Elliot and Urry’s ‘local sustainability’ scenario may yet become a possible future.




Elliot, A., & Urry, J. (2010). Mobile Lives. Oxford: Routledge

ONS (2020) quoted in UK Government briefing 1 May 2020. Available from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882862/2020-05-01_COVID-19_Press_Conference_Slides.pdf

Sandford, A. (2020). Coronavirus: Half of humanity now on lockdown as 90 countries call for confinement. Euronews. 3 April. Available at https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-in-europe-spain-s-death-toll-hits-10-000-after-record-950-new-deaths-in-24-hou [accessed 2 May 2020]


Week 10: Assignment 2 idea

The government guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our lives. Staying inside our homes has altered the way we experience the space around us, and the nature of the space between us and other people. Our ability to be mobile, encouraged by the growing technology of smart-enabled devices, has ended abruptly and so how we use these features has also made an about-turn.

Many of the readings for the literature review explore and make judgements of how these devices enable us to interact with the spaces and infrastructure outside of our homes. Applications such as Actionbound, bus and transport apps, Pokémon GO! – all feature in the changing landscapes that are Smart Cities, changing the way we experience the space around us, increasing our mobility as people and even how, as consumers and citizens, we interact with businesses, corporations and local councils.

During the ‘lockdown’, applications such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and House Party have increased in popularity as people are relying on internet and telecom connected devices and saved contacts to interact with those outside of the household.

To focus this assignment, I am going to interview some users of the House Party app, as it has seen a dramatic rise in use. I am using it instead of Zoom as I want to focus on socialising outside of work rather than working from home. I want to ask:

  1. Are there certain features about the app which makes it preferable to other video calling apps?

This question aims to explore the following:

  • How the user interface is different from other video calling apps
  • How the app is designed to foster activities beyond video calls
  • How the app feels to use, and how this changes how the user feels

There will also be a short semiotic and linguistic analysis of the app’s user interface to explore these concepts further.

  1. Do you feel closer to your friends and family when using the app?

This question aims to explore the following:

  • How the feeling of space between users is increased or decreased when using the app
  • Does the user ‘notice’ that they are using an app, or does it blend seamlessly into their conversation
  • To what extent does the app mimic a ‘real’ house party?


The final point will also reference the UX and linguistics of the app itself, but these questions are designed to explore how effective the app is at closing that space between friends and family members.


  1. What do you feel about the immediate space around you[r body] when using the app?
  • This is a more direct question asking the user to think explicitly about the space around them, which they may not have done previously
  • Hopefully this will encourage the user to talk more about the difference between their mobility pre-lockdown and how it has changed during lockdown (although the question may be re-worded to address this, or another question added)

These questions will have overlapping answers and themes and I expect the questions to change before I ask them, they are not currently set in stone.

I want the conclusion to give some evidence as to how the themes explored previously in the literature review, about the expansion of our mobility, the alteration of space around us by digital technologies and ‘smart cities’ is being turned on its head by the measures implemented during the pandemic. I want to challenge some of the pre-conceived notions of concepts such as net locality and the embedding of technologies, but also expand on some of their uses in ways which writers and academics would previously not have considered.

Week 10: Sustainability, Mobility, Utopia and Sensing Cities

This week’s example comes from the news that Barclays boss Jes Staley is rethinking the “long term location strategy” of the bank’s offices. (BBC News, 2020)

Since the Government guidelines around social distancing, around 70,000 Barclays employees are working from home, doing jobs which were once undertaken in large communal buildings in London and other major cities. Staley told reporters that the bank was now being run by staff working “from their kitchens” which has led him to re-evaluate how much office space was really needed.

Staley said that “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past.”

Elliot and Urry, writing a decade ago, already began to foresee some of the large-scale societal changes that would occur from individuals using more digital technologies and increasing mobility in their daily lives. Their example is of Simone, who travels as part of her job, and is reliant on miniaturised internet-enabled devices to access information quickly and frequently when in different locations. (6: 2010) The thousands of people, including Barclays employees, who have set up themselves to work from home is an example of this mobility happening on a larger scale; with the change being from communal office to various employee households, rather than individuals moving across urban environments.

Elliot and Urry have made some predictions about what the future looks like based on our current lifestyles, many of which are like Simone’s. The first is Perpetual Motion, a “hyper” mobile society who are “always on” i.e. devices switched on, connected to the internet or location enabled. (141: 2010) Devices are used to manage personal finances, tenuous and distant social relationships and privately-owned companies are leading the way in an ever-expanding transport market. The line between ‘work’ and ‘not work’ is blurred, fluid, and stress has reached epidemic levels. Using the example of the Barclays employees, households are reliant on ubiquitous technologies embedded in every room for work, study, and play, with the line between work and play no longer blurred but completely saturated within one another. Staley’s phrase, “from their kitchens” provides unsettling imagery of families perpetually connected to their devices with none of the perks of international travel, or even seeing friends and family members.

Scenario three; Digital Networks, plays a bigger role then maybe the authors anticipated. (147: 2010) Transport is pre-defined and integrated into larger networks run by smart-enabled devices. In person meetings are rare, even discouraged, save for video conferencing which is sold on its similarity to human interaction. This third scenario plays out after carbon becomes scarce, and in return for a comfortable life, individuals’ privacy is traded and instead of personal freedom are sold security products. Elliot and Urry’s predictions are based on a future ravaged by global warming and a scarcity of natural resources but, given the hindsight we have now, is it possible to visualise a future shaped in this way by a global pandemic?


BBC News. ‘Barclays boss: Big offices may be a thing of the past’ <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52467965> accessed 29/04/2020

Elliot, A. & Urry, J. 2010. Mobile Lives Oxford, Routledge

Week 10- Digital Cities


It is the project that collectively requires improving the accessibility of digital platform in European cities. The objective of this initiative project is to develop the pilot testing tools and methods for collecting and distributing information regarding public space accessibility. It is a sustainable development initiative goal and one type of global action in order to secure more resources, leadership and applying smart solutions.

In order to get active for this project, the online maps are one of the great options     for indicating the ways and accessible places. One of the key points is that visualising the data in several ways that are highly attractive and intuitive for target citizens of digital city. Sustainable smart city is both a place to live and an economic region that delivers sustainable development through the systematic development of creative technologies, services and materials. Through minimising the impact of smart cities to environment, they must function better at every level. To make a city green, most important ranking systems are included. The environmental impact per person, generation of renewable energy, percentage of citizen utilising the public transport, recycling the programs and green spaces are the factors beyond a green city development. The entire carbon emissions from the digital ecosystem are remarkable. The digital revolution interacts to all aspects of the physical and human in several varieties of alternative ways. The global data centres are predicted to equate 2 percent of worldwide emissions equivalent to the emissions from aviation worldwide. The Green peace have been driven a great awareness around the internet and data centres.

The new GPS satellites could provide better positioning along with accurate results because of new set of atomic clocks performed externally at each satellite. The satellites have enough transmitting power and the reception of GPS is has more reliability in processing the data regarding correct positioning even in indoors and urban areas. Thus, several technological solutions and applications inspire the alternation of behaviour along with the digital city buildings utilised by efficient sensors of network and energy. 


Elliot, A., & Urry, J. (2010). Mobile Lives. Oxford: Routledge: Introduction and Conclusion , references.

UN (n.d.) The Sustainable Development Agenda, http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/



Rwanda is a rural country and thus blood products and medical facilities cannot be kept at every health care centre that increased attraction of Africa towards Drone Technology. In Rwanda, Africa the unnamed aerial vehicles are used for transporting medical equipment and essentials within the country for ensuring proper healthcare facilities (Flood, 2016).

Roles and responsibilities of drones

The major role of drones in Rwanda is the delivery of medical services and equipment which are essential for securing and saving people’s life. Due to lack of infrastructure and road facilities, the drone plays a crucial role in transporting medical products and equipment to the healthcare centre within less time utilization (Flood, 2016)

Figure: Drones deliver- Health care  Source: (Trucker, 2020)

Future developments in drown

Rwanda wants to make the drone as a supplementary transport system that contributes to facilitating the country with medical services. The aim is to establish 18 ports on the National Network for Rwanda with less capital investment. The project has consumed $70,000 for building low-tech, steel free structure till May 2016 (Flood, 2016).


Development and deployment of drones are at the forefront for logistics in Swiss port since 2015. The drones are responsible for transporting special healthcare deliveries in the corporation in various regions of Switzerland (Corrigan, 2019)

Figure: Swiss Port Drone  –Source: (Corrigan, 2019)



In 2018, JD.com has become the first company in China to secure a license for providing logistics services with the operation of drones. The operation contributed to making deliveries in challenging areas that increased the business and popularity of the company in the world (Corrigan, 2019).   


Corrigan, F., 2019. DroneZone. (Online) Available at; https://www.dronezon.com/drones-for-good/drone-parcel-pizza-delivery-service/ (Accessed on 1st April 2020).

Flood, Z., 2016. From Killing Machines to Agents of Hope: The Future of Drones in Africa. (Online) Available at; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/africas-drone-rwanda-zipline-kenya-kruger (Accessed on 1st April 2020).

Hersh, M., 2019. Learning and Teaching Medicine in Rwanda. (online) Available at; https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2019/11/13/learning-and-teaching-medicine-in-rwanda-part-ii/ (Accessed on 1st April 2020).

Trucker, J., 2020. Drones Deliver Healthcare. (Online) Available at; https://www.dronesinhealthcare.com/ (Accessed on 1st April 2020).



In this modern age, I have identified different types of games and application which are interesting to play with friends and also make more enjoyment. Talking about Pokémon Go, my experience with this game was marvelous and adventurous. This game is for both android and IOS and when I have installed this application on my mobile phone, I don’t know about this game, how to play and find Pokémon. After installing this game I found there is some briefing about the process and getting an introduction, it is required to select one of the starters among three Pokémon’s which are (Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur) (Fettrow and Ross, 2017). The whole game is based on these three processing which is catching Pokémon, visiting Pokéstops, and gym battles, where the main process of this game is to find Pokémon and catch them from different locations which sound more interesting. We have to find different Pokémon’s from different locations.


A Pokémon catching is interesting process where you have to walk different locations as mention in your mobile phone in the mapping direction and tab on the Pokémon which directly connected to you with catching interface. There is a more advance process through the indication of the colorful ring surrounding of Pokémon and which are describing through different levels. Red reflects difficulty levels, yellow for moderate and green reflects an easy level of catching a Pokémon.


Pokestops reflexing the local location where Pokémon exists and it is an interesting process of battle with finding Pokémon to catch it. The gym is also an important part of the game, it helps to train your Pokémon and provide XP, extra power to you Pokémon to fight more efficiently against your competitors. Tap on the enemy Pokémon and decide how effectively you want to fight, here I customize the process of battling by light and hard mode (LeBlanc and Chaput, 2017).



Fettrow, E.A.W. and Ross, D., 2017. Games as a Force for Good: Strategies for Incorporating Pokémon Go in the Classroom. Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance18.

LeBlanc, A.G. and Chaput, J.P., 2017. Pokémon Go: a game changer for the physical inactivity crisis?. Preventive medicine101, pp.235-237.