Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

An expedition into the programmable city [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

Software, in its various manifestations, is essential to the functioning of cities. It is permeating city systems and infrastructures as well as urban management and governance. A new EU-funded project is preparing to undertake a sustained programme of research on how software...
An expedition into the programmable city
Software, in its various manifestations, is essential to the functioning of cities. It is permeating city systems and infrastructures as well as urban management and governance. A new EU-funded project is preparing to undertake a sustained programme of research on how software makes a difference in the urban world.

The SOFTCITY project ('The Programmable City'), led by Professor Robert Michael Kitchin of the National University of Ireland, will look at how software, in its diverse forms, impacts on daily life.

Scientists now know that software-enabled technologies and services augment and facilitate how we understand and plan cities. As well as how we manage urban services and utilities, and how we live urban lives. Across a diverse set of everyday tasks - domestic chores, work, shopping, travelling, communicating, governing and policing - software now plays a central role.

The SOFTCITY project, launched in June 2013 with EUR 2.3 million in funding from the European Research Council (ERC), will examine how cities are translated into code and how code reshapes urban life. It includes investigations into four key urban practices: understanding the city, managing the city, working in the city, and living in the city. Concretely the research covers for instance smart buildings, intelligent transport, dense telematics and informatics infrastructures. All of which can increase productivity, competitiveness and sustainability.

Researchers will also study the generation and analysis of so-called 'big data', i.e. enormous, dynamic and interconnected datasets relating to people, objects, interactions, transactions and territories and 'everyware': where computational power is available anywhere in the world and on the move.

Some of the specific questions to be asked include: How is software used to regulate and govern city life? How is the geography and political economy of software production organised? And how does software transform the spatial behaviour of individuals?

Fieldwork will be carried out principally in Dublin, with a secondary site in Boston, USA. Both cities are key sites of agglomeration for software production and both are experiencing forms of programmable urbanism. In addition, having two case study sites will enable the comparing and contrasting of how software is produced and employed in two locales.

A range of methodologies will be employed, including interviews, ethnographies, audits, surveys, discourse analysis, and the development of a new method, algorithm archaeology.

SOFTCITY partners believe their work will address a serious gap in social science research, answering key questions about contemporary urbanism and software in an interdisciplinary way, across the disciplines of geography, urban studies, sociology and software studies. The project will, as well, provide new theoretical tools and empirical evidence for thinking through the new era of programmable urbanism.
Source: SOFTCITY

Related information

Countries

  • Ireland
Record Number: 35787 / Last updated on: 2013-06-10
Category: Project
Provider: EC