Urban intelligences, subjects and subjectivities

Urban intelligences, subjects and subjectivities, led by Senior Urban Fellow from 2013-2014 Adam Greenfield, sought to develop a richer account of the affective and experiential dimensions of everyday urban life in the presence of networked informatic systems.

Built on wide-ranging theoretical foundations, as well as Adam’s fifteen years of practical experience in the discipline of user experience design, this work explored how the heavily technologised city is experienced and understood by its citizens, as well as what the encounter makes of them. As envisioned, it will result in a set of guidelines as to ways in which networked systems, services and interfaces could be designed as common resources for the greatest
benefit of all.

Do ordinary people understand the technological systems that do so much to condition contemporary urban life, from simple RFIDbased technologies like the Oyster card to anticipatory policing built on the analysis of so-called “big data”? What mental models of system function do we construct, and what place do we perceive for ourselves in these schemata?

To what degree do we feel capable of intervening in the action of the technical systems we encounter? How can these systems be designed to enhance citizen agency while — equally importantly —conveying to users a resonant sense of that agency?

Skilled use, competence and mastery
What measures are available to help citydwellers of all ages and backgrounds develop confidence in their own ability to negotiate highly-technical urban interfaces?

Being urbane, displaying savoir faire
How might we demonstrate such mastery in everyday life? How is it performed? Can it be used to develop social (or, indeed, other forms of) capital?

Solidarity and collective experience
How might those that are technologically mediated join the shared urban experiences of previous generations in evoking a sense of belonging and connection to one another?




Project coordinator
Adam Greenfield

Research strand
Cities, Space and Society

2013 - 2014

smart city, technology, networked systems