Within the frame of the ninth international conference for Intelligent Environments, preceded by a series of in-depth workshops that took place in the Greek capital amid summer, an intensive exchange of thoughts, visions and questions arose concerning the galloping growth of pervasive technologies in relation to a different kind of city environment. A whole section of workshops was devoted to the "Smart City" concept, while all talks, papers submitted, and questions posed around the urban field indicated that we are moving rapidly from smart to smarter urban contexts.
The conference culminated in a "debate" between computer scientists and architects. These persons discussed ways to bridge the gap between the respective fields via commonalities and differences in their methodologies and evaluation systems, through the sharing of a common educational background, and the overcoming of difficulties concerning their in-between communication. This kind of effort denotes the increasing interdependence between architecture and computer science when, probably in the near future, architects and urban planners will be called to give solutions to single and multiple users’ needs within technologically complex environments.
A key issue of the conference, among others, was the user experience. In older times, the epicenter of interest was on the functionality and usability of the ubiquitous artifacts. Today, what seems to matter most is the offered experience gained by intelligent environments and their ability to engage the user in making decisions and in taking action in the physical world. The goal nowadays is to expand the spatial experiences not only through the transmission of visual and auditory messages, but also via censoring systems that extract various types of data from the users and subsequently refuel the primary systems.
Presentations, like the Dynamic Lighting Design program on parametric lightning software for urban public space, that was tested in the Kotzia Square in the center of Athens, concentrated on the interactive upgrading of common infrastructures in our cities. But what about the social infrastructure of our cities? Is it possible to urbanize technologies in a more humanistic and sustainable way?
The sociable smart city 2013 workshop investigated how computing is able to unlock local knowledge from city dwellers regarding the past and present of a place and subsequently transmit and share this knowledge to a broader group of people; while the presentation about large-scale street games using future internet technologies, that was tested at the Athens Playthone Festival, was about promoting human interaction within the urban realm through a wide range of hardware devices.
How smart is the city you are living in? In which ways?
Credits: Data and photos linked to sources.