People with physical and mental differences face a host of barriers that reduce their quality of life by limiting their participation in social, political, cultural and economic life. It can be difficult to move around familiar neighbourhoods let alone strange places. For example, those with mobility impairments often can’t fully enjoy public spaces due to uneven surfaces, visually-impaired people can’t access everyday wayfinding information, and people with less visible disabilities often find crowded place to be a sensory minefield. This is the situation, and it is unacceptable.
Today, over a billion children are growing up in cities. By 2030, UN-HABITAT estimates that 60% of the world’s urban population will be under the age of 18. Cities today, however, rarely provide ideal living conditions for young people. This is a huge problem when we stop to consider how this demographic will dominate the urban population within the next decade.
The UK high street is in the midst of a deepening crisis. Store closures officially overtook store openings in 2015 and the trend continues today. The first half of 2019 alone saw some 3,000 stores shutting down. The UK is not alone, as failing high streets can be seen across Europe and the US.
Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, the UN predicts this number will go up to 68%, adding 2.5 billion more people to urban areas. While urbanisation brings with it a host of benefits, it does put a strain on a city’s transportation and mobility systems resulting in traffic congestion, inadequate public transport and unsafe roads. These are huge challenges that many urban areas today just don’t have the resources to properly address.
On every continent digital technologies are being used successfully to support people to play a proactive role in shaping their environment and public life. All kinds of tools, from simple digital surveys to bespoke augmented reality systems, are now enabling citizens to share their ideas and be heard by decision-makers. This engagement benefits not just the citizens but also those responsible for developing and managing public spaces, for they can better identify and implement projects that the public actually want – and value.
Children and young people are often seen as passive inheritors of our heritage. Their portrayal in the popular media regularly suggests apathy and disinterest, just look at the photos that went viral of schoolchildren on their phones in the presence of a Rembrandt masterpiece (although it’s clear, some portrayals are certainly not accurate). However, as the Heritage Fund’s Sarah Lanchin says, “children and young people enjoy heritage and can become strong advocates for the future”.
Layered Realities, Night Walk for Edinburgh, Brutalist Tapestry, Symbiosia… all recent intriguing projects that involve the artistic exploration of our public spaces through the use of digital technologies and searching storytelling. Whether developing data-driven systems, utilising image and audio AR or pushing the boundaries of 5G infrastructure, arts, culture and technology are inseparable.
This article highlights a range of ways in which artists are employing technologies to foster a sense of place in beautiful, playful and engaging ways.
Last week there was an outcry when it was revealed that a facial recognition system was in operation in the public spaces of Kings Cross, London. The developers behind the deployment, Argent, were clearly out of step with pretty much everyone else – including the Mayor of London, Saddiq Khan,…
Over the past few months we learnt that Jamie’s Italian was closing, Carluccio’s was massively restructuring, LK Bennett was bought out of administration and so on. These huge shifts on the UK’s high streets continue apace and there are a number of factors that have combined to create the conditions…
The imperative for our environments to support our health and wellbeing is high on the agendas of policy and practice worldwide – not to forget the agendas of citizens. This article explores some ways that location-based digital technologies are being used to help create more livable urban spaces. As such, it shows that a digital placemaking approach is a key element in creating the types of places where we wish to live.
All too often digital technology is positioned as being in opposition to nature. In this article I’m choosing to explore another view. How are our digital technologies contributing to and enhancing our interactions with nature? I was spurred to pursue this theme for two reasons. Firstly, I recently spoke at…