2013-02-16 22.23.08

Lab404/PPGCC-FACOM-UFBA começa 2015 com um acordo de cooperação acadêmica com duas Universidade dos Reino Unido e duas do Brasil.

O projeto Augmented urbanity and smart technologies: how “smart” are our cities becoming? ganhou o edital NEWTON FUND (UK) e reúne pesquisadores das Universidades de Durham e Plymouyth no Reino Unido e da PUC-PR e FACOM-UFBA para discutir o tema das “cidades inteligentes”.

O projeto começa em 01 de janeiro de 2015 e dura 12 meses. Os pesquisadores envolvidos são Simon Marvin e Andres Luque, do Departamento de Geografia da University of Durham, Alessandro Aurigi, da Faculdade de Artes e Humanidades da Plymouth University, Rodrigo Firmino e Fábio Duarte do Programa de Pós- Graduação em Gestão Urbana da PUC-PR e André Lemos e André Holanda, do LAB404 do Programa Pós- Graduação em Comunicação e Cultura Contemporâneas da FACOM/UFBA. Todos os pesquisadores da Lab404 participarão dessa cooperação.

Haverá quatro workshops, um em cada universidade envolvida a partir de março 2015. O calendário ainda está sendo ajustado, mas devemos ter um primeiro workshop em março em Durham, um outro em Julho em Curitiba, o terceiro em Salvador em setembro e o último em novembro em Plymouth.

Abaixo um resumo e os principais objetivos (em inglês) do Projeto:

The idea of smart cities is based on the assumption that a substantial use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the management of urban functions can make cities work more efficiently and effectively. The objectives are three fold:

  • To critically explore forms of increasing interaction in the fields of augmented urbanities and smart urbanism, between scholars and students of the two Brazilian (PUCPR and UFBA) and British (Durham and Plymouth) universities, through a program of academic mobility.
  • To stimulate the debate and capacity for research about the use of ICTs for promoting spatial augmentation and smarter cities, and analyse the relationships with contemporary social and economic urban transformations.
  • To understand how the construction of meaningful spaces in the city as a sociotechnical process that involves an overlapping of different physical, cultural and technological layers, can augment our urban experience and wider developmental priorities.

We intend to work in two interconnected research areas – smart technologies and smart cities -, both important to understand the enormous urban transformations in the past two or three decades. These areas are grounded on our experiences as researchers, reflected in books, peer- reviewed publications, and conferences.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in cities, mainly through the perspective of the social construction of technologies and actor-network theory, is in the formation of what has been called augmented spaces. More recently the main focus of our studies has been the appropriation of locative media and mobile technologies in the experience of urban life and mundane activities.

The intangible relations between concrete and abstract space – data, information and all sorts of flows that, in an invisible way, are an intrinsic component of places and spaces – contribute for creating the concept of an augmented reality, or, analogously, the augmented space. Nevertheless, augmentation of space is not exclusively based on the volume of apparatuses and techniques that we use to produce it. ICT-mediated spatial expansion or augmentation is also about acquiring new qualitative and collective dimensions.

We argue that, because of this influence in our interaction capabilities, ICTs might act as catalyst forces transforming various spatial and experimental dimensions of cities and urban places. Thus, this theme involves questions such as: how can we describe and understand the construction of urban places that are – if understood as parts of sociotechnical assemblages – immersed in a hyper connected mode of existence? Or how can we relate this augmented spatiality to the ways in which we operate and plan our cities and urban spaces?

The idea of smart cities is to a great extent based on the belief of planners and city managers that substantial (and instrumental) use of technologies, particularly ICTs, improves urban management, optimizes technical and social networks, and enhances urban competitiveness. According to this belief, the use of ICTs in the management of urban functions can make cities work better – from the optimization of infrastructures, to the organization and management of data and information and the delivery of public services. Electrical infrastructures can have better performance if embedded with ICTs, creating smart grids; high-tech infrastructures are important assets that help cities position themselves in the fierce global competition for revenue, jobs and people, and more recently, allegedly protect citizens against crime and terrorism.

We believe that besides the hype and enthusiasm surrounding the possibilities of an increasing capacity for “central” control of the city justified by the dream of smart urbanism, the city is also made up of a series of scattered networks of technologies and practices (associated with these technologies). These form a fluid network of devices and systems that participate in the formation of places and territories made of ephemeral appropriations with various levels of interconnection, systematization and complexity.

The possibility of a “city of the Internet of things and big data”, supported by autonomous technologies, able to communicate with each other with a minimum mediation of human action is already part of the reality of the construction of contemporary urban space. The Internet of things – known as a seamless network of operations and actions triggered by interconnected devices – may provide, in the future, an autonomous cascading development of technological systems that can control urban structures and human actions in the city.

Thus, both the Internet of things and the intricate interdependence between man and technology are able to create interesting situations from the point of view of co-production processes, data sharing, the effectiveness of certain technological systems to control urban structures such as water supply, energy, etc. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of developing mechanisms for control and sophisticated surveillance, the transformation of individuals and individualities in codes of databases, the direct and indirect manipulation of personal and collective information, classification and consequently discriminations of target groups, fraud, and all kinds of invasion and interference with direct influence on current standards of privacy and individual liberties. In sum, these are the dilemmas we want to address in order to generate debate and common understandings among the research centres involved in this proposal, their students and scholars.

For building the interactions needed to put these two themes in the centre of the debate, we aim to create an environment of discussion and the exchange of ideas and experiences between postgraduate students and researchers based in PUCPR, UFBA, Durham and Plymouth. The best way we believe this could be achieved is through the organization of various thematic workshops to take place along the 12 months of the projects, in Brazil (in the cities of Curitiba and Salvador) and in the UK (in Durham and Plymouth). The main idea behind the workshops is to find and develop real research links between all studies being currently carried out by the main investigator and their supervisees.

Each workshop will be organized in three kinds of meetings: (1) a first broader meeting involving all participants and designed to discuss the main common aspects of the studies in course in the four centres; (2) smaller and specifically designed meetings divided as working groups, where participants and studies will join by similarities in their topics and/or approaches; (3) and finally, we intend to create meetings to discuss commonalities and differences in the methodologies used by researchers of the four centres, where these can be organized as general meetings and/or working groups.

It is important that the interaction between the centres remain active for the whole period of this research. Thus, in order to promote a more vivid environment for exchanges, the workshops will have to take place in a period of no more than 3 months between each other, and in both countries.

The expected outcomes of this research will be of three main types:

  • (a)  Institutional cooperation: the construction of a permanent link between the four universities for the exchanging of students, future studies and joint research projects;
  • (b)  Joint publication: we expect that, at least, the main investigators will be able to produce one written outcome of this experience and, probably, 2 articles to be published in journals of relevance to the field of urban studies.
  • (c)  Students’ interchange: postgraduate students will strongly benefit from this experience of thematic and methodological exchange, and this is expected to reflect on a better quality of their dissertations and further publications.