Urban informatics, ubiquitous computing and social media for healthy cities

10 August 2011

This paper discusses the relationship between modern digital technology and the urban environment.

The increasing ubiquity of digital technology, internet services and location-aware applications in our everyday lives allows for a seamless transitioning between the visible and the invisible infrastructure of cities: road systems, building complexes, information and communication technology, and people networks create a buzzing environment that is alive and exciting. Driven by curiosity, initiative and interdisciplinary exchange, the Urban Informatics Research Lab at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia, is an emerging cluster of people interested in research and development at the intersection of people, place and technology with a focus on cities, locative media and mobile technology. This paper introduces urban informatics as a transdisciplinary practice across people, place and technology that can aid local governments, urban designers and planners in creating responsive and inclusive urban spaces and nurturing healthy cities. Three challenges are being discussed. First, people, and the challenge of creativity explores the opportunities and challenges of urban informatics that can lead to the design and development of new tools, methods and applications fostering participation, the democratisation of knowledge, and new creative practices. Second, technology, and the challenge of innovation examines how urban informatics can be applied to support user-led innovation with a view to promote entrepreneurial ideas and creative industries. Third, place, and the challenge of engagement discusses the potential to establish places within cities that are dedicated to place-based applications of urban informatics with a view to deliver community and civic engagement strategies.

Image: An artwork commissioned by the Urban Informatics Research Lab to illustrate the physical
and digital layers of the city.

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