W12 – Summary

The Digital Cities modules has been fascinating. I think living in 2017, it is quite easy to take for granted how technology works within our everyday lives as it has become normalised. This module has allowed me to really think about and assess the huge technological changes in my life time. For example, as Miller explains, “The computer moved from being a tool to being a filter for all culture replacing screens, TVs and gallery walls. The computer is now disappearing from our direct sight as we enter an age where media is integrated into the fabric of the city.” (Miller, 2011: 14). This is one of the overarching themes of the module; others include big data, how digital technology affects the user and citizen’s experience of the city and issues around connection over distance and what connecting to others who are outside of your physical space does to the space itself.
As Townsend states, “for thousands of years, we’ve migrated to cities to connect.” (Townsend, 2013: 1). Technology has enabled us to communicate with people on the move, regardless of their or own location. However, there are consequences to this. Although discussing the iPod, Bull’s work can be applied to city dwellers using their mobile phones to in public spaces. According to Bull, “The more we warm up our private spaces of communication the chillier the urban environment becomes, thus furthering the desire and need to communicate with absent others or to commune privately with the products of the culture industry. Media technology simultaneously isolate and connect.” (Bull, 2007: 9).
Remaining question from this module include, what will be the consequences of smart cities? Do people need to live in cities anymore? Will we ever be able to accurately describe a city using the numbers of data without agenda? (Kitchin and Lauriault, 2015: 16). What are the consequences of big data? What will people do to resist certain data being collected? What will drone 3D printing developments lead to?

Bull, M. 2007. Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. Oxon: Routledge. Pp.9.

Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T. P and McArdle, G. 2015. Knowing and governing cities through urban indicators, city benching marking and real-time dashboards. Regional Studies, Regional Science. 2(1). Pp.16.

Miller, V. 2011. Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. London: Sage. Pp.14.

Townsend, A., M. 2013. Smart Cities. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Pp.1.

Wk11 – 3D Printing

Birtchnell and Urry describe 3D printers as “fabrication technologies that manifest digital data in three-dimensions” Birtchnell and Urry, 2016: 13) and it is changing the prognosis of many ill and injured patients (Scott, 2017).
Daniel Omar got a 3D-printed prosthetic arm fitted after losing his during an aerial attack in Sudan (Birrell, 2017). This fuses analogue (human body) with the digital (3D-printed arm), as Lipson and Kurman state this technology could eliminate the divide between physical and virtual worlds and predict it will eventually detect different blood types or changes in temperature. (Lipson and Kurman, 2013: 14-15).
This fast-developing technology creates bespoke products quickly and efficiently, such as limbs, 3D-printed skin grafts for burn victims and reconstruction parts, as well as hearing aids and dental crowns. Birtchnell and Urry believe that 3D printing will lead to “far more flexibility, choice and variety in the global system people currently rely on for the objects they use in everyday life..social, geopolitical and economic upheaval, disruption and transformation are also on the horizon.” (Birtchnell and Urry, 2016: 3). This could include redundancies of production workers, the quicker manufacture of things and the undemocratic nature of the quality and cost of 3D printers. The best 3D printers will only be available to the rich, meaning those will less expensive, less effective 3D printers could create body parts or goods that are substandard and do not last. The industry is also in early stages in terms of medical use, as Lipson and Kurman explain, “engineering tissue remains a delicate and difficult activity, bound up by ethical issues, political controversy and stringent regulatory processes.” (Lipson and Kurman, 2013: 128).
There are also concerns that 3D printers could be used to create and give unauthorised people or children access to weapons, drugs (Lipson and Kurman, 2013: 11) or counterfeit goods. (Birtchnell and Urry, 2016: 11). There could also be a black market for 3D-printed body parts that could lack the proper quality and regulation they desperately need.

Birrell, I. 2017. 3D printed prosthetic limbs: The next revolution in medicine. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/19/3d-printed-prosthetic-limbs-revolution-in-medicine (Accessed 04/05/17).

Birtchnell, T. And Urry, J. 2016. A New Industrial Future? 3D Printing and the Reconfiguration of Production, Distribution and Consumption. London: Routledge. Pp. 3-13.

Lipson, H. and Kurman, 2013. Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. Indianapolis: John Wiley. Pp. 11-128.

Scott, C. 2017. In India a 3D printed spine saves a woman from paralysis and death. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/may/04/in-india-a-3d-printed-spine-saves-a-woman-from-paralysis-and-death (Accessed 04/05/17).

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).

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.

W8 Digital Urban Gaming

Pokemon Go is a location-based, augmented reality game played on smartphones, using cameras and GPS, allowing players to “catch Pokemon in the real world.” (Pokemon Go, 2017), and described by Hjorth and Richardson as a “cultural moment.” (Hjorth and Richardson, 2017: 4).
I interviewed a male journalist in his late twenties about how he experienced his urban environment playing Pokemon Go. He described the game as “blurring the lines between digital and the real world.” (Interviewee, 2017), as Foth et al reinforce, mobile, locative games augment the physical space. (Foth et al, 2016: 16-20).
The interviewee blamed his love of the game on “nostalgia,” growing up when the Pokemon craze began (Interviewee, 2017), something Hjorth and Richardson reiterate. (Hjorth and Richardson, 2017: 4).
Hjorth and Richardson believe smartphones have a “deep impact on everyday media and play practices.” (Hjorth and Richardson, 2017: 7). Amongst the game’s benefits, the interview listed being able to play on your phone and exploring the city, praising Pokemon Go for turning “your neighbourhood into a playground.” (Interviewee, 2017). Hjorth and Richardson echo this, “as media become more mobile and playful..we increasingly interweave our everyday experience of place with playful virtual elements.” (Hjorth and Richardson, 2017: 6).
At a Pokestop in Brighton, the interviewee explained he saw a statue he never noticed before, stating the game taught him more about where he lives. (Interviewee, 2017). This links with Foth et al’s idea of urban games giving players a new way to experience their environment and aa renewed sense of value and appreciation. (Foth et al, 2016: 17).
Pokemon Go’s popularity is most likely linked with it being set in an environment the player already feels connected to and, as Foth et al explain, has “potential for socially reflective comparison.” (Foth et al, 2016: 20). However, there are concerns with locative games due to the player’s data collected and their vulnerability to theft or crime. (NSPCC, 2017). The interviewee suggested he would talk strangers playing Pokemon who he would usually ignore. However, this connective feeling is contradicted by the isolation those less mobile may feel.


Foth, M., Hudson-Smith, A. And Gifford, D. 2016. Smart cities, social capital and citizens at play: A critique and a way forward. Research Handbook on Digital Transformations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Pp. 16-20.

Hjorth, L. And Richardson, I. 2017. Pokemon Go: Mobile media play, place-making and the digital wayfarer. Mobile Media and Communication. 5 (1). Pp.4-7.

Interviewee (anonymous). 2017. Personal communication. Interview conducted 23/03/17.

NSPCC, 2017. Pokemon Go: A parent’s guide. NSPCC. Available at: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/pokemon-go-parents-guide/ (Accessed 23/03/17).

Pokemon Go. 2017. Explore. Pokemon Go. Available at: http://www.pokemongo.com/en-uk/explore/ (Accessed on 23/03/17).

W6 City Dashboards and Open Data

The Open Data Institute defines open data as “data that anyone can access, use or share” (Open Data Institute, 2017) and believes it benefits citizens and economies. Open data is used on Community Insight, funded by Brighton and Hove City Council, allowing people to “find, explore and use a wide range of facts and figures at different geographic levels for Brighton and Hove.” (Community Insight, 2017). Similarly used on City Dashboard, which claims to “aggregates simple spatial data for cities around the UK and displays the data on a dashboard and a map.” (City Dashboard, 2017). The information on both these websites is about citizens and economies and free to access and they use dashboards to collect, analyse and display data.
Few defines dashboards as important information displayed visually on a single screen. (Few, 2006: 34). Leszczynski describes urban big data, such as displayed on the above websites, as “continuous, real-time flows of information,” and identifies a link in this and digitalisation. (Leszczynski, 2016: 1694).
At first look, city dashboards on these two websites appear to be representing a city. However, Kitchin et al describe city dashboards as actively framing and producing cities rather than reflecting them. (Kitchin et al, 2015: 6). This can be applied to Community Insight who provide statistics on areas of the city, rating them with the amount of child poverty, retired adults or people on unemployment benefit etc. This information could have a detrimental effect on an area by producing stereotypes. For example, more affluent people choosing to move to a different area to avoid what they could view as a higher percentages of undesirable qualities. However, they could also highlight areas that require more council funding. This duplicity is echoed by Kitchin et al who state that while dashboards are a multitude of ways to see and understand a city. (Kitchin et al, 2015: 25).

City Dashboard. (2017). ‘About.’ City Dashboard. Available at: http://citydashboard.org/about.php (Accessed 09/03/17).

Community Insight. (2017). ‘About.’ Community Insight Brighton and Hove. Available at: http://brighton-hove.communityinsight.org/custom_pages?view_page=1 (Accessed 09/03/17).

Few, S. (2006). Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. O’Reilly. Pp.34.

Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T. P. And McArdle, G. (2015). ‘Knowing and governing cities through urban indicators, city benchmarking and real-time dashboards.’ Regional Studies, Regional Science. 2 (1). Pp.6-25.

Leszczynski, A. (2016). Speculative futures: Cities, data and governance beyond smart urbanism. Environment and Planning A. 48 (9). Pp.1694.

Open Data Institute. (2017). ‘What is open data?’ Open Data Institute. Available at: http://theodi.org/what-is-open-data (Accessed 09/03/17).

W5 Locative Narrative and Actionbound

Actionbound describe their app as allowing users to play “digitally interactive scavenger hunts” to enhance “people’s real-life interaction whilst using their smartphones.” (Actionbound, 2017).
My Bound took users on a treasure hunt around Brighton city centre using their smartphones and the Actionbound app. I included a Find Spot, Scan Code, Mission and Information, as well as Stage and Quiz.
According to Ritchie, stories told via mobile locative devices, such as Actionbound on a smartphone, require “really nontrivial effort,” (Ritchie, 2014: 53) because the user has to move physically around Brighton, for example, to play the game on the Actionbound app. Therefore, the user of my Actionbound is ‘navigating across digital and physical spaces’ (Ritchie, 2014: 65) by follow each step on their smartphone around Brighton.
Ritchie describes constraints as “actual and perceived attributes of an object or system that limits its possible uses.” (Ritchie, 2014: 53). When designing a locative experience with Actionbound, I experienced cultural and logical constraints. Is my Actionbound being written in English limiting who can access and play it? Also, I included two quizzes. Are these questions more biased towards people who live in Brighton as they contain Brighton trivia? There were also physical constraints in terms of could the user scan the code in the location outside of regular opening hours.
According to Casetti media intercepts information that saturates social and virtual spaces (Casetti in Berry et al, 2013: 9) and public space plays out similarly in my Bound. The public space has become linked with the virtual via the user’s smartphone. Similar to Berry et al’s analysis of the iPod, playing Actionbound on a smartphone creates a personalised world for the player which can be seen to fill the “empty spaces, times and values” of contemporary city spaces. (Berry et al, 2013: 13).

Actionbound. 2017. Actionbound. Available at: https://en.actionbound.com (Accessed 03/03/17).

Berry, C., Harbord, J. and Moor, R. O. 2013. Public Space, Media Space. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pp. 9-13.

Ritchie, J. 2014. The Affordances and Contraints of Mobile Locative Narratives. In The Mo- bile Story. Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies, ed. J. Farman, 53–67. Oxon: Routledge. Pp. 53-55.

W4 Code/Space

Berry et al describe public space as “sites that occupy historical, political and social ground,” (Berry et al, 2013: 9) and suggest it is not understood as inert, but rather constructed through social relationships.
The Programmable City blog explores how cities are translated into software and data (The Programmable City, 2017). Fuller’s theory that “software expands out of the computer, becoming spatially active” (Fuller in Kitchin and Dodge, 2011: ii) can be applied to the blog about self-driving lorries and smaller vehicles.
Carlo Ratti, director at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, explains that self-driving vehicles could “blue the distinction between private and public modes of transportation;” that after taking you to work, the car could then give someone else a lift rather than sitting idle. (Ratti, 2016). This blurring of private and public is also present in Berry et al’s work where they state private space has been transformed by various media entering the home. (Berry et al, 2013: 3).
The self-driving vehicle project could also impact positively on city congestion if there was public access to a fleet that contain various communication technologies.
Coded assemblages can be applied to the transport system. According to Kitchin and Dodge, these occur when different coded infrastructures converge to work together and become “integral” to one another in “producing particular environments.” (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011: 7). With self-driving vehicles, coded assemblages could work together for a car to be booked, driven, parked and so on throughout the day via different customers. This seemingly simple process links to the idea of software as “automagical,” working invisibly to produce complex outcomes in everyday life. (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011: 5). Berry et al build on this, stating due to the flow of data, images and satellites, space emerges through the representation of practices. (Berry et al, 2013: 6). Data about traffic conditions would feedback to the self-driving car and re-route its navigation system before relaying this information to the customer via a screen.

Berry, C., Harbord, J. and Moore, R., O. 2013. Public Space, Media Space. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kitchin, R. and Dodge, M. 2011. Code/Space Software and Everyday Life. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press.

Ratti, C. 2016. ‘The road to tomorrow: streets need to be as smart as the cars driving on them.’ Wired. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/smart-cars-need-smart-streets (Accessed 22/02/17).

The Programmable City. 2017. Scoop It. Available at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-programmable-city (Accessed 22/02/17).

W3 Locative and Mobile Sound

It is difficult to imagine a city without noise. However, the Noise Abatement Society’s objective is to raise awareness and solve noise pollution and noise issues, believing that these can cause ill health and cause mental distress. (Noise Abatement Society, 2017). However, Ari Kelman’s theory that “sound is one of the characteristics that makes a city a city” (Kelman, 2010: 217) contradicts this and suggests that urban dwellers would be comfortable with city noises. This does not, however, explain why they choose to take their music into the public space. This blurs the lines of private and public because a music listening experience does not have to end once the listening leaves the home. They can take their music with them, creating and playing selected playlists to suit their current mood or what they would like their mood to be as they move through the city. Bull reinforces this, believing music to impact the atmosphere of spaces, (Bull, 2000 in Behrendt, 2012: 287), and according to Behrendt, this sound is immersive (Behrendt, 2012: 288).
Listening to music through headphones also concerns the Noise Abatement Society and they have set up the Love Your Ears campaign to try to prevent teenagers listening to their music too loudly while on the move. (Noise Abatement Society, 2017).
Behrendt discusses Bull’s theory that urban dwellers use music to manage their mood, in turn warming up their private space but chilling the environment for everyone else. (Bull, 2007 in Behrendt, 2012: 284). This is because it is a private activity so others cannot hear what is being listening to, unless it is very loud, so can be seen as isolating. This solitary isolation is echoed by Bull when he states “solitariness and the daily movement of people through the city are two dominant hallmarks of contemporary urban experience.” (Bull, 2007: 5).
According to Bull, in the age of the iPod, any city space has the potential to be a ‘non-space,’ thus having no meaning, the music urban dwellers take with them throughout the city then fills this space and helps to create it into something meaningful for the listener.
With an increased amount of people listening to mobile music through their smartphones and the rise of noise cancelling headphones, perhaps this explains the Noise Abatement Society’s aim to make cities quieter, for example with delivery lorries making less noise (Noise Abatement Society, 2017). With a quieter city, urban dwellers are free to create and manipulate the public sonic space to best suit their mood.

Behrendt, F. 2012. The Sound of Locative Media. Convergence: The International Journal of research into New Media Technologies. 18(3): 284-288.

Bull, M. 2007. Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. Oxon: Routledge. Pp. 5.

Kelman, A. 2010. Rethinking the Sound Scape: A Critical Genealogy of a Key Term in Sound Studies. London: Taylor and Francis. Pp.217.

Noise Abatement Society. 2017. ‘Who We Are.’ Noise Abatement Society. Available at: http://noiseabatementsociety.com/about-us/who-we-are/ (Accessed 17/02/17).

Week 2: Smart Cities and Digital Culture

Poster states that the main difference between old broadcast media and new media was the old media was passive, whereas the latter is active. (Poster, 1995), though Lister et al argue that this is simplistic, describing new media as “digital, interactive, hypertextual, dispersed and virtual.” (Lister et al, 2009). New media and digital cities go hand in hand.

This focus on the digital can be seen with UK company, Future Cities Catapult who are dedicated to ‘enhancing’ urban environments and innovation to grow companies. They focus on “integrated urban planning, healthy cities and urban mobility.” (Future Cities Catapult, 2017). One of their projects was developing a strategy to make the University of Glasgow a smart campus. Townsend describes smart cities as “places where information technology is wielded to address problems old and new.” (Townsend, 2013: xii). This may be on a larger scale than a smart campus, but shares similarities.

At the University of Glasgow, digital technology was recommended for use to enhance the students experience and give them a competitive edge. It would also allow students to study from any location, changing the dynamics of education and space. Their website states that creating a smart campus would lead to enhanced learning and better life on campus. (Future Cities Catapult, 2017).

The University would have to be adaptable according to Miller’s position that the internet and much of its content are in a “continual state of transformation.” (Miller, 2009: 29). This is reinforced by Future Cities Catapult statement on their website, which starts that the smart campus “actively learns from an adapts to the needs of its people and place, unlocking the potential of e-technology and enabling world-changing learning.” (Future Cities Catapult, 2017).

According to Townsends “we experience the symbiosis of place and cyberspace every day. It’s almost impossible to imagine city life without our connected gadgets.” (Townsend, 20123: 6). Using Townsends theory, this comfort with digital technologies in everyday life would transfer well into the realm of education.

Future Cities Catapult. 2017. Future Cities Catapult. Available at: http://futurecities.catapult.org.uk (Accessed 10/02/17).

Lister, M. 2009. In In Miller, V. 2011. Key Elements of Digital Media. In Understanding Digital Culture. Sage: London. Pp.12.

Miller, V. 2011. Key Elements of Digital Media. In Understanding Digital Culture. Sage: London. Pp.12-29.

Poster, M. 1995. In Miller, V. 2011. Key Elements of Digital Media. In Understanding Digital Culture. Sage: London. Pp.12.

Townsend, A., M. 2013. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. Pp.xii-6.