A set of design strategies for building, acting & deciding an urban future together, without requiring consensus on that future.

... we are faced with needing to redesign, radically, our everyday lives in the near future. How are we going to do that? Who is going to design that future? Do we outsource the fundamental decisions to Silicon Valley corporations, technologists and algorithms who see humans as problems to solve? Or do we take ownership of our combined and collective futures? No single voice or even small selection of voices is going to resolve all these complexities.

On deploying infrastructure that gets taken over and repurposed by other people.

...the goal, in our work, is to use networked technologies, not to make things more efficient or to optimise, but to see things differently so that we can make decisions together. Not to make decisions better (whatever that means) but to make them collectively; not to remove inefficiency and complexity, or iron out wrinkles and seams, but to embrace that complexity and build value from the unpredictability, serendipity and creativity that you find in messy situations...

As we plan for technological interventions in our cities, installing networked technologies and infrastructures for managing the complexities of our lives, let’s evaluate these systems on more than just how efficient they are.

...communication infrastructure, designed and deployed in collaboration with local residents and organisations, that everyone can listen in on, and whose spectacular luminescent path explicitly depends on which residents have elected to host a node of the mesh network...

A survey on large scale participation and citizen engagement with ubiquitous computing, cyber physical systems, and Internet of Things.

... we propose a taxonomy for categorising and characterising urban computing technologies and approaches with regards to the level of participation they stimulate, the participation scale they support, the manipulation and effects mode they enable, and the interaction mode and scale they enable.

Entitlement, which defines who can access your IoT device data, and under what conditions it can be found and used by others, is one of the major challenges that needs to be resolved in the Internet of Things.

... People don’t protest too much when their personal profile or usage data is employed by companies like Facebook and Google to deliver highly targeted advertisements. But in the Internet of Things, the data generated by all these things tends to be much more personal and commercially sensitive...

Data is not just 'out there' waiting to be captured like butterflies. It is crafted, collated and curated by someone or something (with someone behind it) that had a reason for doing so.

It's vitally important for us, citizens, to develop a more sensitive relationship to our data, particularly given the growing tendency to abdicate decision making to algorithms buried inside software.

We know that cities are a mess, but they can't – and shouldn't be – tidied up by smart cities and data systems.

People must have the freedom to exercise agency in making the things in which they live and to shape them according to their own tastes. It is this that elevates them from a consumer to a citizen.

Overview of project development for Assemblance, an immersive and interactive 3d laser environment.

Our intention here, drawing on our backgrounds in architecture and the design of networked urban infrastructure, is to explore how people relate to each other and to their surrounding environments and how they can create and collaborate on building their own environments and experiences.

Interview with Umbrellium founding partner

The real opportunity afforded by building these participatory projects is to involve citizens in building a shared memory of a possible future.

One of the best ways to make data more meaningful is to make it yourself and to experience it, in situ.

When you join with others to measure something, you make meaning by having conversations about the data you are collecting. Sensemaking in this situation becomes a collective activity – you don't even need to be using the same measuring equipment, you just need to be able to talk about what you're doing with each other.

The smart city approach suggests that technology helps us do things 'better', and so, the argument goes, we need more technology. But how do we ensure that urban systems enable invention unanticipated by planners and help us do things not 'better' but differently?

Cities are what Russell Ackoff might call a 'mess'. Every issue interrelates to and interacts with every other issue; there is no clear 'solution'; there are no universal objective parameters; and sometimes those working on problems are actually the ones who are causing them.

Are smart cities as inevitable as is often implied? It's worth considering what it is that we mean by a 'city' and why we want, or don't want, a city to be 'smart'.

The benefits of smart cities, as they are being sold to us, sound awfully similar to the benefits that urban planners decades ago were assuring us would accrue if only we had more highways and highrises - the social, cultural, and environmental impact of which we are now bearing the brunt of.

Any adequate model for the smart city must focus on the smartness of its citizens and encourage the processes that make cities important, valuable and sustainable.

Empowering citizens to find and build their own solutions dynamically may yet allow the full potential of smart cities to be realised.

This article discusses the paradoxical structures of collaboration and ways that paradoxes can be harnessed for participatory urbanism.

More important therefore is to structure participation so that the choice to would-be participants is much more than simply 'participation' vs. 'non-participation'.