Team meeting, 2 June, 2014

Monday the 2nd of June, we had our regular team lunch; there was a small group present, Henrik, Malin, Åke, Björn, and Elina.

Mainly two things were discussed. Firstly, we discussed the possibility to propose a track within a master program in Human-Computer Interaction and Media technology. The idea is that the courses within the track should be more connected to our team and the research we are doing. The deadline for proposing a track is the 1 of September, so our first team meeting after summer vacation (18th of August) will be dedicated to this issue.

Secondly, we discussed a paper:

Knowles B, Blair L, Hazas M, Walker S. Exploring sustainability research in computing: where we are and where we go next. In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM international joint conference on Pervasive and ubiquitous computing (UbiComp 2013). New York: ACM. 2013. p. 305-314.

The joint conclusion of this discussion was that the paper is interesting, albeit dense. The paper describes a literature review of over 220 papers, and it covers both the field of HCI/ubiquitous computing and sustainable computing in general. The authors identifies ten questions that these papers cover, and show what field cover what kind of questions. Furthermore, the paper also discusses the triple bottom line definition of sustainability and proposes a ”quadruple bottom line” model of sustainability to be used within sustainable HCI research.

Next meeting will be the last before summer vacation. There will be strawberries.


Smart Cities by Anthony M. Townsend

In my role as a researcher at CESC  in a research project on Smart Sustainable Cities, I have read the book Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend. I have read it with a sustainability lens, but I would argue that the book is relevant to anyone interested in any of the following issues; urbanism, cities, smart things, the future, (urban) planning, big data, civics, and the internet of things. More specifically, the book discusses the real value of ICT in trying to solve problems in our cities in the future. And that it might not be what we think it is.

The book presents first some accounts of smart cities initiatives around the world, for example Rio de Janeiros operating centre and Songdo in South Korea. Both these examples are driven by big corporations and the means for becoming a smart city is what is sometimes called the fourth utility; ICT. But ICT can be designed and implemented in both a top-down and a bottom-up perspective. The previous grand scale efforts are in the book contrasted with many examples of hackathons, tinkerings and guerrilla movements. Although the author is not discouraging the top-down approach throughout, he is definitly vying for the bottom-up, civic approach to a smarter city.

There are many areas this book covers and I will not give a full summary of it here. The author describe many historical and contemporary perspectives on urban planning and ICT, sometimes in unison. The book moves back and forth between centralized formal efforts to informal ad-hoc ventures, just as un-disciplined as a city is. I like the book, and I will give you a future gazing citation to ponder upon:

”The challenge for designers of smart cities will be navigating another transect, the one that connects the physical and the virtual world. To do so effectively they’ll need to cross-train. […] First, they will need to heed Geddes’s admonition to see cities as both scientists and artists. […] Smart-city designers will also need to be transdisciplinary — able to think across disciplines inside their own minds. […] To be effective in getting their designs built, they will need to deeply understand smart systems and their risks and benefits, and be able to explain it all to non expert stakeholders.” (p. 303)

We’re in for a challenge!

Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend
Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend


Klimatet och välfärden

I onsdags hade teamet möjligheten att lyssna på Staffan Laestadius (professor i industriell utveckling, KTH) som presenterade sin nya bok ”Klimatet och välfärden – mot en ny svensk modell”CESCs teammöte. Boken har ett budskap som kan vara mörkt om man tror på evig tillväxt, men trots detta har den ett hoppfullt budskap om att den strukturomvandling som måste till för att nå klimatmålen är fullt möjlig att genomföra. Boken är indelad i tre delar, en del som kortfattat sammanfattar vilka problem vi står inför, en del som berör olika perspektiv på problemet (som t ex vårt fossilberoende och hur moderniteten styr oss in på en ohållbar väg) och en tredje och sista del som beskriver hur omvandlingen skulle kunna gå till. Åtgärderna som måste göras för att nå klimatmålen är omfattande och framför allt manar boken till att det måste till politiska beslut för att omvandlingen ska komma till skott. Boken står inte för en ”technology fix”, utan Laestadius hävdar att den mesta tekniken som behövs finns redan, vi ska bara bli beredda att använda den. Dock måste vi först, framför allt, dra ner på utnyttjandet av energi, innan vi kan effektivisera och byta ut fossila bränslen till förnyelsebara. Boken bjuder också in till att läsa mer om ämnet med en rik referenslista. Jag har själv läst boken och kan tillägga att den är tillgänglig och lättläst, vill ni låna den, säg till.