Team

Who we are and our bios

Nick Bingham

Co-Investigator

Dr Nick Bingham is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at The Open University, where he has worked since 1999, and is leading SCIM-MK's Smart Data work package.

This work package investigates how data is created, collected, curated and then put to work in the smart city, and is informed by Nick's longstanding interest in taking seriously the role of the material and the nonhuman in the assembly of human social lives.

In particular he brings to SCiM-MK experience first in generating rich accounts of technology use (that began in his doctoral research on the then emerging geographies of the internet and was extended as a research associate at the University of Sheffield exploring young people's life around their screens), second in understanding how the success of novel technologies and techniques depends on their finding a place alongside existing ones (in his work on the controversies around GM crops), and thirdly in following the journeys of information and information practices between different sites (as co-investigator on the ESRC-funded Biosecurity Borderlands project).

Matthew Cook

Co-Investigator

Dr Matthew Cook is a Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Sustainability. He began his career as a professional spatial planner, spending eleven years in industry specialising in innovation policy for urban regeneration and sustainability.

He has continued this interest in academia, first at Cranfield between 1999 and 2009 and, since 2009, at The Open University. Matthew’s interests have led him to investigate smart from a range of angles, working on smart grid and city developments in the UK, Sweden and Mexico, and emerging smart city standards published by the British Standards Institute.

This research is underpinned by a broader research direction which has been attentive to the governance of the socio-technical in pursuit various policy goals such as sustainability. Matthew is drawing on this expertise to lead SCiM-MK’s Smart Governance work package, exploring circulations of smart policy and their role in (re)constructing cities.

Parvati Raghuram

Co-Investigator

Prof Parvati Raghuram is Professor of Geography and Migration at The Open University. Her career has been focussed on investigating the ways in which the mobility of people, goods and ideas work to reshape the world.

In particular, she has specialised in the mobilities of globalisation in such areas as medicine and education, and most recently, the IT sector.

Alongside her work in SCiM-MK, Parvati is the principal investigator on a project which examines the interface of gender and skilled migration in the Indian and British IT sectors. The GSM-IT project is attempting to draw out learning from the very mixed Indian IT industry and apply it to the, currently very male dominated, IT sector in the UK.

Parvati’s expertise in the realm of employment and the technology sector, and migration, is being deployed in SCiM-MK’s research as the leader of the Smart Work work package. Here, she is examining the new and evolving contours of work and employment which come about as cities become smarter.

Gillian Rose

Principal Investigator

Prof Gillian Rose is Professor in Cultural Geography. She joined The Open University in 1999 where she has developed a career focussed on investigating visual culture, with an interest in the ways that images are embedded in a wide range of social practices.

Her recent work has paid particular attention to the role of the visual in our understanding of cities. First, her research investigated the way that the visual and senses of the aesthetic contributed to a sense of place in two contrasting cities, Milton Keynes and Bedford. More recently, she has conducted research seeking to understand the way that architectural firms produce digital visualisations of urban developments which contribute to the overall feeling of a city and, indeed, its ‘brand’.

This thinking around the intersection of the urban and the digital led to Gillian’s growing interest in smart cities. As well as being the project’s principal investigator, Gillian leads SCiM-MK’s Smart Visuals work package, investigating the role that visual culture plays in the ways that smart cities are imagined.

Alan Miguel Valdez

Research Associate

Dr Alan-Miguel Valdez began his career as a software engineer, went on to become a technology journalist, and is currently working as a Research Associate in the Geography Discipline at the Open University.

His PhD applied the Strategic Niche Management framework to study sustainable transport pilots in Milton Keynes, with a particular focus on the sensemaking activities that took place in organizations considering the adoption of electric vehicles under the Plugged-in Places programme. He further developed this understanding of cities as experimental spaces within the transport work package of MK:Smart, a £16 million smart city programme.

Through his career, his research has focused on how the experimental spaces in Milton Keynes have facilitated the development of new knowledges about sustainable innovation, and on how such knowledges coalesce and travel. This research has been based on the qualitative study of policy and trade literature and on interviews and participant observation involving citizens, lead users, industrial actors and policymakers in local and national government.

Through this research Miguel has developed an interest in the different ways in which different actors make sense of innovative technologies, and develop competing narratives about the future of their city. He is contributing to the research in the Smart Data and Smart Governance work packages of SCiM-MK.

Sophie Watson

Co-Investigator

Prof Sophie Watson is Professor of Sociology at The Open University. Throughout her career she has worked on the various ways that people interact in the public spaces of the city, looking at this through the lens of street markets, multiculturalism, and faith.

She is also concerned with the entanglements of city dwellers and the materiality of the urban spaces they live in. Alongside her work on SCiM-MK, Sophie is conducting research into the place water in the city and the kinds of socio-cultural practices associated with it in London and several other global cities.

Sophie leads the Smart Citizens work package of the SCiM-MK project, applying her knowledge of cities and their publics to examine the ways that smart technology interventions lead to new ways for city dwellers to interact with urban space.

Edward Wigley

Research Associate

Dr Edward Wigley is a Research Associate in the Geography Discipline at the Open University, having completed his PhD at UWE Bristol in 2016.

Before pursuing a research degree, he completed a BA Hons at Lancaster University and MA with The Open University. Edward’s PhD, Everyday mobilities, place and spirituality, drew together geographies of religion and the new mobilities paradigm and employed a mixed methods approach to explore individual practices of the contemporary religion and spirituality outside of the ‘official’ spaces of worship or attendance such as the church or meditation centre.

Since its completion, he has worked on several projects including exploring established resident attitudes towards recent economic migration and reviewing and implementing a support service for disabled staff at a university.

In addition to research, he has taught on a range of topics across geography and sociology including religion, spirituality, social and cultural geography, urban geography and geographical skills. His current research interests incorporate smart cities, digital and urban geographies, place identity, globalisation and mobilities. Edward now works on SCiM-MK’s Smart Visuals work package.

Oliver Zanetti

Research Associate

Dr Oliver Zanetti is a Research Associate in the Geography Discipline at The Open University.

He joined The Open University in 2009 as a postgraduate researcher where he conducted research investigating how the conservation of food plants contributes to the bringing about of food security. Following his PhD, he returned to his urban interests developed earlier in his career, first investigating the role of faith in the city with Sophie Watson and, later, working on a citizen focussed project which sought to understand what smart interventions citizens look for to help them navigate the city.

Through these various projects, Oliver has remained convinced of the necessity to consider how human activities interface with the work of nonhuman materials to bring the social into being. Oliver now works on SCiM-MK’s Smart Citizens and Smart Work work packages.

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Nick Bingham

Co-Investigator

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Matthew Cook

Co-Investigator

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Parvati Raghuram

Co-Investigator

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Gillian Rose

Principal Investigator

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Alan Miguel Valdez

Research Associate

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Sophie Watson

Co-Investigator

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Edward Wigley

Research Associate

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Oliver Zanetti

Research Associate

Nick Bingham

Matthew Cook

Parvati Raghuram

Gillian Rose

Alan Miguel Valdez

Sophie Watson

Edward Wigley

Oliver Zanetti