[Air-L] CfP: Digital Cities 6: Concepts, Methods and Systems of Urban Informatics

Marcus Foth m.foth at qut.edu.au
Mon Mar 16 16:23:43 PDT 2009

Second Call for Papers
(please note the workshop has moved to the 24th June)

Digital Cities 6: Concepts, Methods and Systems of Urban Informatics
Workshop at the 4th International Conference on Communities and  
Penn State, USA, 24th June 2009

April 16th, 2009	Workshop position papers due
May 18th, 2009	Author notifications sent
June 24th, 2009	Workshop


Keynote speaker

We are happy to announce that Professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the  
SENSEable City Lab at MIT (senseable.mit.edu), will deliver the  
keynote presentation at Digital Cities 6.

The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors  
and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach  
to the study of the built environment. The way we describe and  
understand cities is being radically transformed - alongside the tools  
we use to design them and impact on their physical structure. Studying  
these changes from a critical point of view and anticipating them is  
the goal of the SENSEable City Laboratory, a new research initiative  
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1	Theme

Transport grids, building complexes, information and communication  
technology, social networks and people form the bones, organs,  
muscles, nerves and cell tissue of a city. Studying the organisation  
and structure of these systems may seem straightforward at first,  
since there are visible artifacts and tangible objects that we can  
observe and examine. We can count the number of cars on the road, the  
number of apartments in a building, the number of emails on our  
computer screens and the number of profiles on social networking  
sites. We could also qualify these observations by recording the make  
and model of cars, the size and price of apartments, the sender and  
recipient of emails and the content and popularity of online profiles.  
This approach would potentially produce a large amount of data and  
render a detailed map of various levels of a city’s infrastructure,  
but a large quantity of detail does not necessarily result in a great  
quality (and clarity) of meaning. How do we analyse this data to  
better understand the ‘city’ as an organism? How do the cells of the  
city cluster to form tissue and organs, and how do various systems  
communicate and interact with each other? And, recognising that we  
ourselves are cells living in cities as active agents, how do we  
evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the processes we observe  
in order to plan, design and develop more livable cities?

A macroscopic perspective of urban anatomy does not easily reveal  
those meticulous details which are necessary to help us understand and  
appreciate what Anthony Townsend calls the urban metabolism (Townsend,  
2000), that is, the nutrients, capacities, processes and pace which  
nurture the city to keep it alive. Some of the fascination with human  
anatomy stems from the fact that a living body is more than the sum of  
its parts. Similarly, the city is more than the sum of its physical  
elements. Trying to get to the bottom of a city’s existence, urban  
anatomists have to become dissectors of urban infrastructure by trying  
to microscopically uncover the connections and interrelationships of  
city elements. Yet, this is anything but trivial for at least three  
reasons. First, time is a crucial factor. Many events that trigger  
urban processes involving multiple systems result in a timely  
interrelated response. A dissection by isolating one system from  
another, would cut the communication link between them and jeopardise  
the study of the wider process. The city comprises many of these real- 
time systems and requires approaches and tools to conduct real-time  
examinations. Second, the physical city is increasingly complemented  
with a virtual layer that digitally augments and enhances urban  
infrastructures by means of information and communication technology  
including mobile and wireless networks. This world, which Mitchell  
(1995) called the ‘city of bits,’ is invisible to the human eye, and  
we require instruments for live surgery to render the invisible  
visible. Third and most importantly, the ‘cells’ of the urban body,  
the lifeblood of cities, are the city dwellers who have a life of  
their own and who introduce human fuzziness and socio-cultural  
variables to the study of the city. The toolbox of what could be  
termed anthropological urban anatomy thus calls for research  
approaches that can differentiate (and break apart) a universally  
applicable model of ‘The City’ by being sensitive to individual  
circumstances, local characteristics and socio-cultural contexts.
Exploring these three challenges, this workshop looks at concepts,  
research methods and instruments that become the microscope of urban  
anatomy. We want to discuss urban informatics systems that provide  
real-time tools for examining the real-time city, to picture the  
invisible and to zoom into a fine-grained resolution of urban  
environments that reveal the depth and contextual nuances of urban  
metabolism processes at work.

2	Topics

Relevant workshop topics include but are not limited to the following:

•	Civic and community engagement strategies to support urban planning
•	Public sphere, participation and online deliberation systems
•	Urban e-government, e-governance, e-participation, e-democracy  
•	u-City: Ubiquitous computing, pervasive technology, wireless  
internet and mobile applications
•	Locative media, navigation and space
•	Urban informatics design and development methods and epistemologies
•	Multi-format user-generated content (narratives, photos, videos,  
•	Neogeography and 3D virtual environments for urban design and planning
•	Simulations to reproduce and analyse complex social phenomena and  
city systems
•	Social networking, collective intelligence and crowd sourcing in the  
urban context
•	Environmental, economic and social sustainability
•	Citizen science
•	Access, trust, privacy, safety and surveillance
•	Implications for residential architecture and the design of cities  
and public spaces
•	Ethical considerations scrutinizing the assumptions behind urban  

3	Organisation and Submission Details

This is a full day workshop. We will start off with a keynote address  
by an eminent speaker. Rather than formal conference-style paper  
presentations, we will follow the successful peer interview format and  
ask each participant to interview another contributing author. Pairs  
will be assigned in advance to prepare questions and engage with the  
paper. After lunch, there will be a range of group activities and a  
closing plenary discussion at the end. The workshop can accommodate a  
maximum number of between 25 to 30 participants including presenters  
in order to provide an environment that is conducive to debate and  
We are interested in three types of contributions:

Concepts: Essay style papers discussing theoretical and conceptual  
ideas and innovation within a cross-disciplinary framework.

Methods: Papers reporting on novel approaches in the area of urban  
informatics, e.g. network action research, shared visual ethnography,  
urban probes, cross-disciplinary methods, etc.

Systems: Reports of systems and case studies that ground findings in  
practice and experience.

Prospective participants are asked to submit a position paper (2-4  
pages total, in English, ACM SIGCHI 2-column format, same as for the  
C&T full papers) related to one of the workshop topics. Each  
submission should also include a short biography stating the author’s  
background and motivation for attending the workshop. Workshop  
position papers are due on April 16th, 2009 and will be reviewed and  
selected by the organisers with the support from an international  
program committee. Accepted authors will be notified by May 18th, 2009  
– to leave enough time to qualify for the early bird conference  
registration. The acceptance of a workshop position paper implies that  
at least one of the authors will register for both the workshop and  
the Communities & Technologies 2009 conference. The workshop takes  
place on June 24th, 2009. After the workshop, selected contributors  
are invited to submit a full paper by October 1st, 2009. Full papers  
will undergo double blind peer review before being published.  
Arrangements for an edited book or a special issue of a relevant  
international journal are currently underway.


4	Bibliography

Each Digital Cities workshop has produced an edited volume containing  
selected workshop papers and other invited contributions as follows:

Digital Cities 5 -- Foth, M. (Ed.) (2009). Handbook of Research on  
Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City.  
Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, IGI Global.

Digital Cities 4 -- Aurigi, A., & De Cindio, F. (Eds.). (2008).  
Augmented Urban Spaces: Articulating the Physical and Electronic City.  
Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

Digital Cities 3 -- van den Besselaar, P., & Koizumi, S. (Eds.).  
(2005). Digital Cities 3: Information Technologies for Social Capital  
(Lecture Notes in Computer Science No. 3081). Heidelberg, Germany:  

Digital Cities 2 -- Tanabe, M., van den Besselaar, P., & Ishida, T.  
(Eds.). (2002). Digital Cities 2: Computational and Sociological  
Approaches (Lecture Notes in Computer Science No. 2362). Heidelberg,  
Germany: Springer.

Digital Cities 1 -- Ishida, T., & Isbister, K. (Eds.). (2000). Digital  
Cities: Technologies, Experiences, and Future Perspectives (Lecture  
Notes in Computer Science No. 1765). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.

5	Organisers

Marcus Foth
Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane,  
m.foth at qut.edu.au

Laura Forlano
Kauffman Fellow in Law, Yale Law School, New Haven, USA
laura.forlano at yale.edu

Hiromitsu Hattori
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Informatics, Kyoto  
University, Japan
hatto at i.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Dr Marcus Foth
Senior Research Fellow

Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Queensland University of Technology (CRICOS No. 00213J)
Creative Industries Precinct, Brisbane QLD 4059, Australia
Phone +61 7 313 x88772 - Fax x88195 - Office Z6-511
m.foth at qut.edu.au - http://www.vrolik.de/publications/

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