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    SCiM-MK at ESRC Festival of Social Science in autumn

    SCiM-MK's contribution to this autumn's ESRC Festival of Social Science will be enhanced thanks to an award of funding from the Festival which was announced last week. With our project partner Virtual Viewing, SCiM-MK will be exhibiting a range of new visualisation techniques and technologies to the public in a location in Central Milton Keynes. More details on the event will be announced nearer the time.

    The annual ESRC Festival of Social Science runs from 4-11 November 2017. The aim of the event is to celebrate the fascinating work undertaken by social scientists across the country, and to generate public engagement with that work.

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    Focus group on the use of tech by blind and partially sighted people to improve urban navigation

    To build on SCiM-MK's research on the use of smart technology by blind and partially sighted people to improve urban navigation, Sophie Watson and Oliver Zanetti will be running a focus group on the subject in the coming weeks.

    We'd like to invite all blind and partially sighted people who use smart technologies like smartphones to help navigate the city to participate in a discussion about their experiences. Whether you use specialised apps like Blindsquare, or conventional apps like Google Maps, we’d like to hear from you. We’re particularly interested in how these technologies are used and the effect that they have had on how you get around the city. This will help us better understand the social implications of these new technologies.

    The focus group will be held in the evening of 21 June, from 6 until 8pm at the Community Action MK offices at Acorn House, 351 Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 3HP. It promises to be a lively and engaging discussion. For further information, and to register your attendance, please email Oliver at Oliver.Zanetti@open.ac.uk.

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    Gillian Rose speaking on visualisations of the smart city

    Project lead Gillian Rose is doing a number of talks in May and June about smart cities and how they're visualised. Digital images are everywhere in smart cities. You can see them in smart policy documents and vision statements, as data analytics and dashboards, as advertisements and app interfaces, at hackathons and expos and as part of smart cities' engagements with mass and social media. There are a range of different types of visualisations, from the photo real cityscapes of imagined places of the future to animated infographics which represent data visually.

    Gillian has started to examine the ways in which big corporations like IBM, Cisco and Siemens visualise smart cities in their promotional materials on social media. Alongside this research, she is leading a work package in SCiM-MK to investigate how this takes place in Milton Keynes.

    On 10 May she gave a keynote lecture at the Geomedia conference at the University of Karlstad in Sweden exploring how smart cities appear in the images embedded in smart city tweets. On 2 June she'll be at a conference on urban technologies and redevelopment at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, talking about how smart city corporations envisage the future smart city. And on 10 June she'll be at University College Cork in Ireland, at a conference on bodies and the city, giving a keynote lecture on how those promotional materials visualise the people that inhabit smart cities.

    One of the SCiM work packages will be looking at the much wider range of images that are part of various smart activities in Milton Keynes. If you have any thoughts on any smart images that you've seen, please get in touch with Gillian on twitter (@profgillian) or by contacting her through this website.

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    Big data, smart city standards, and citizenship

    How might citizen-centric approaches to smart city developments coincide with big data? While it is routinely argued that they do, there is a paucity of research in this area. SCiM-MK's Matthew Cook, with Simon Joss and Youri Dayot of the University of Wesminster, have attempted to fill this gap by exploring the citizenship mode promulgated by the smart city standard of the British Standards Institution. Matthew recently presented this work at the Urban Big Data Centre in Glasgow.

    Drawing upon the notion of citizenship regime and using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the analysis he presented reveals key discursive frames which shape the smart city and the particular citizenship dimensions brought into play. The findings suggests that there is a strong citizenship rationale guiding the smart city standard, which is emblematic of the emerging smart city development discourse, and displays some shortcomings and contradictions.

    Their paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Technology.

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    Participatory development of an urban navigation app

    SCiM-MK researcher, Oliver Zanetti, with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from around the Open University, have published work on the practice of citizen engagement in smart cities. The paper is titled ‘Smart Cities and M3: Rapid Research, Meaningful Metrics and Co-Design’ and was published in Systemic Practice and Action Research.

    The paper considers the ways that citizens can be engaged in the development of smart city projects. It reports on a short, reactive project called Making Metrics Meaningful, which sought to investigate the data needs of public transport users planning their journeys in and around Milton Keynes. The research used novel methods, including image elicitation and the generation of a musical score based on participants’ commentaries, that provoked an open and wide ranging debate. Mock ups of possible app outcomes were generated and the paper reports on the feedback of users on these mock ups.

Tomorrow #mindonmk celebrates #mk's past and future with #mkcityfest and #mk50. Venue: Middleton Hall in @centreMK https://t.co/KAVsoJKaeB
by SCiM_MK