RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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9 Digital Representations of Place: Urban Overlays and Digital Justice (1) - Digital Representations of Place: A Review of Exemplary Concerns
Affiliation Digital Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Mark Graham (University of Oxford, UK)
Martin Dittus (University of Oxford, UK)
Chair(s) Mark Graham (University of Oxford, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 29 August 2018, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Main Building - Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre
Session abstract Over the last few decades, our cities have become increasingly digital. Urban environments are layered with data and algorithms that fundamentally shape our geographic interactions: impacting how we perceive, move through, and use space. Spatial justice is thus inextricably tied to data justice, and it has become imperative to ask questions about who owns, controls, shapes, and has access to those augmented and hybrid digital/physical layers of place. Now that over half of humanity is connected to the internet, do we see greater levels of representation of, and participation from, previously digitally disconnected populations? Or are our digitally dense environments continuing to amplify inequalities rather than alleviate them? A growing body of knowledge documents the societal impact such digital representations can have, for example when they favour the interests of one privileged group (such as tourists) at the expense of others. We seek to systematise this knowledge, and to provide guidance for practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers to address imbalances and inequalities in representation.

Our workshop follows a “split session” format. In the first slot, invited panelists present short talks about case studies and conceptual framings to outline the state of our current understanding. These contributions are developed further in a panel discussion, where we take audience questions. In the second slot, participants discuss some central themes in a World Café format (facilitated discussion groups), guided by short provocations. Their observations and recommendations will be shared with the community, and the wider public.
Linked Sessions Digital Representations of Place: Urban Overlays and Digital Justice (2) - Impact Typologies and Mitigation Strategies
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
An Introduction to Digital Representations of Place
Mark Graham (University of Oxford, UK)
Martin Dittus (University of Oxford, UK)
Introducing the themes of the session, introducing a first set of concerns that will then be illustrated further by the following speakers.
The persistent environmental digital divide
Muki Haklay (University College London, UK)
Over 20 years ago, as the web was emerging as a medium for distributing public information, it was promoted as a tool for increased democratisation. From the age of dial-up modem and PCs to the use of mobile phones and smartphones, concerns about digital divides and how they impact the ability of local participation in environmental decision making never resolved. These digital divides are creating a tapestry of marginalisation through different devices, skills, and communication potentials, and it is valuable to reflect on their dimensions – both technical and social, and consider how we can consider them in a systematic way. The talk will attempt to reflect on technological and social changes and the attempts to address them.
Hybrid forms of public participation in Madrid and Taiwan : how can we bridge digital inequalities?
Yu-Shan Tseng (Durham University, UK)
This paper seeks to uncover forms of digital inequalities within new processes of public participation in Madrid and Taiwan (Decide Madrid and vTaiwan).

Both of these cases use ‘hybrid’ models, where online platforms enabling digital public participation are supplemented by forms of offline participation such as stakeholders’ collaborative meeting and voting. Whilst both of these platforms therefore engage with digital inequalities to some extent, they display inherent biases towards digital use, being largely designed for people who can access the requisite digital tools and the Internet. For example, in the case of Decide Madrid, the online channel is used at every stage of the public participation process, whilst the offline channel is used for voting and proposing stages in the public participation process. In addition to digital inequalities happening in the course of public participation, digital inequalities also reflect wider inequalities, particularly participation gaps related to gender, socioeconomic status (Schradie 2011; Hargittai 2003; Jenkins 2006) and physicality. They are present in both of the cases presently under study.

Smart Cities in the Making: Learning from Milton Keynes
Gillian Rose (University of Oxford, UK)
How do smart technologies and policies bed into a city, creating new layers and networks of urban experience and differentiation? SCiM-MK is a social science research project which seeks to answer that question by examining Milton Keynes as a smart city ‘in the making’. Focussing on the citizens, governance, workplaces, data and visualisations of smart, SCiM-MK looks at the social effects of smart city technologies. In particular, SCiM-MK will find out how social difference affects participation in smart, and whether smart creates new forms of social difference.
Data-driven urbanism, citizenship and justice
Rob Kitchin (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
This short intervention will discuss and critique the creation of data-driven urbanism and urban science, focusing on notions of citizenship and social justice. In particular, an argument is made that smart city interventions are underpinned by a narrow instrumental rationality and top-down forms of civic paternalism and stewardship, rather than being rooted in notions of more political and philosophically-grounded notions of citizenship, justice, fairness, equity, democracy, and rights. However, while there is some critique of data-driven urbanism that it should be more citizen-centric and just, what that means in theory and practice is rarely articulated. There are many theories of social justice for example – egalitarianism, utilitarianism, libertarianism, contractarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, etc – and of citizenship, and each envisions a different set of principles, rights, entitlements and social relations. In other words, digital justice underpinned by each one of these theories would be markedly different. This then raises the question, so what kind of justice and citizenship are we hoping to enact when we call for digital and spatial justice?