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Design and the Politics of “Smart Cities”

March 29, 2018
12:00-2:00pm CST
IIT Institute of Design
565 W Adams St 7th floor
Chicago, IL 60661

From autonomous vehicles to drones and from sensor networks to digital manufacturing initiatives, smart cities are one of the many ways in which emerging technologies are being adopted into everyday life. How might we design the future of cities in ways that mediate between top-down and bottom up approaches? How might designers and citizens understand these opportunities and/or redirect these initiatives? What design approaches are most relevant to engaging with these political, economic and social transformations? The five panelists - designers, social scientists and computer scientists - will offer different disciplinary perspectives on a range of examples from smart city projects in the United States.


Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Tech, author of Adversarial Design
Carl DiSalvo is an Associate Professor in the Digital Media Program in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At Georgia Tech he directs the Public Design Workshop: a research studio that explores socially-engaged design and civic media. He has a courtesy appointment in the School of Interactive Computing, and is an affiliate of the GVU Center. DiSalvo also directs the Digital Media track of the interdisciplinary M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction.  DiSalvo’s scholarship draws together theories and methods from design, the social sciences, and the humanities to analyze the social and political qualities of technology and prototype experimental systems. His work supported by the National Science Foundation and Intel. DiSalvo publishes regularly in design, science and technology studies, and human-computer interaction journals and conference proceedings, he is also an editor of the MIT Press journal Design Issues.  DiSalvo’s experimental design work has been exhibited and supported by the ZKM, Grey Area Foundation for the Arts, Times Square Arts Alliance, Science Gallery Dublin, and the Walker Arts Center.  DiSalvo holds a Ph.D. in Design from Carnegie Mellon University.

Chris Le Dantec, Georgia Tech, author of Designing Publics
Dr. Christopher Le Dantec is an Associate Professor in the Digital Media Program in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research is focused on the area of digital civics emerging from the intersection of participatory design, digital democracy, and smart cities. He is specifically interested in developing community-based design practices that support new forms of collective action through the production and use of civic data. After earning his Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing in 2011 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he advanced theoretical and practice-based approaches to bridge the digital divide experienced by homeless families in the U.S., he has worked closely with the City of Atlanta and a range of community-based partners to explore new forms of civic participation through community-centered design inquiry. His research has direct impact on how policy makers and citizens work together to address issues of community engagement, social justice, urban transportation and development. In addition to publishing in a range of ACM conferences, he is the Community+Culture forum editor for interactions magazine and the author of Designing Publics (2016, MIT Press).

Laura Forlano, IIT Institute of Design
Laura Forlano, a Fulbright award-winning and National Science Foundation funded scholar, is a social scientist and design researcher. In addition to her role as an associate professor at the Institute of Design, she is also Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Director of the Critical Futures Lab. Her research is focused on the aesthetics and politics at the intersection between design and emerging technologies, material practices and the future of cities. She is co-editor with Marcus Foth, Christine Satchell and Martin Gibbs of From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen (MIT Press 2011). She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University.

Nassim JafariNaimi, Georgia Tech
Nassim JafariNaimi is an assistant professor at the Digital Media program at Georgia Tech, where she also direct the Design and Social Interaction Studio. Her research explores the ethical and political dimensions of design and technology, especially as related to questions of democracy and justice. Rooted in pragmatist ethics and feminist theory, she critically engage emerging digital technologies—such as smart cities or artificial intelligence—in their wide-ranging and transformative effect on the future of collective action and social interactions. Dr. JafariNaimi received her PhD in Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She also hold an MS in Information Design and Technology from Georgia Tech and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran. http://nassim.lmc.gatech.ed

Andrew Schrock, Chapman University, author of Civic Tech
Andrew Schrock earned his PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He currently is a post-doctoral fellow at Chapman University, where he researches how scientists and technologists organize through communication to achieve scientific breakthroughs. His personal research considers how grassroots groups and governments can collaborate and ethically use technology to improve life for residents. He is particularly interested in the “civic tech” movement, and how these “techies” are organizing and changing democratic institutions. Andrew’s research on communication and technology has appeared in New Media & Society; the International Journal of Communication; and Big Data & Society. For more on Andrew’s work, please visit his website at Information on his book on civic tech can be found at