Situating Engagement: Ubiquitous Infrastructures for In-Situ Civic Engagement

by Matthias Korn at Participatory IT Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, April 15, 2013.

Our mobile phone is with us at all times. Habitually, we pick it up in the morning and carry it around on our daily routes and routines. Increasingly, we use it to locate ourselves and the things and people around us. With ubiquitous computing, technology is moving into the very fabric of our everyday lives and the spaces we inhabit. Where email and the telephone have broken down barriers of geography, the relationship of technology with physical locations in people’s lives strengthens. From Occupy to the London riots and the Arab Spring, situated technologies offer new ways through which we can participate in the world. We experience a new participatory culture on the go.

These developments offer new possibilities for civic engagement in participatory land use planning: to engage people where they are. In my dissertation, I coin the notion of situated engagement, which seeks to ’situate’ civic engagement activities in those spatial contexts that are at stake in land use planning. This approach enables engagement activities to be better integrated with people’s everyday lived experiences through connecting to the places that are personally meaningful and relevant to them.

In the talk, I will discuss situated engagement from a conceptual and methodological perspective drawing from a number of case examples. I will bring forward a notion of a situated engagement infrastructure made up of mobile, stationary, ubiquitous, and remote systems suggesting a plethora of different means for citizens to engage with planning issues within a plethora of different contexts and situations.