November speakeasy: How Smart Data is Shaping our Identities



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Image by Rune Nielsen

Smart data now surrounds us all, from embedded sensors hidden in our familiar spaces to massive social profile datasets churning in server farms.  As citizens we have little effective control of this data – its provenance, its analysis, its storage – through which we can decide and direct our urban collective characters. Instead, we are often granted only a ‘worm’s eye view’ of our actions within these complex data systems which can result in negative and unexpected long-term outcomes, such as the social division and polarisation that may emerge from the combined actions of individuals acting in their own interest within a flock of social media users.

Can citizens be empowered to themselves create better outcomes for our societies and shared identities? Can we, as a society, crowdsource decision-making and leadership, and be more capable of anticipating the unanticipated? Can we together encourage and ensure broad participation by every demographic group across all areas of Australia’s governments and services? What would these reimagined urban identity-scapes look like, who should design them, and how would they operate?

This public forum will specifically tackle urban design decision-making, particularly how we might all improve the options for designing cities with rather than for its citizens.  Join us as respected academics, economists, and others analyse the potential of evolving technology to bridge the gaps between experts and non-experts, government and communities, to produce fruitful collaboration and robust shared identities out of competing demands and scenarios.



Nicholas Gruen will participate in the following discussions:
10:10: Future Spaces for Living “Designing Better Lives: people’s lived experience prompting change” – Jeni Paay, Simone Taffe, Chris Fluke.
10:50: Future Urban Mobility “Steering our cities towards ‘zero accidents, zero emissions, and zero car ownership’: Hype, hope or reality?” – Hussein Dia.
11:40: Future Urban Decision Making “Densification and future decision-making for housing” – Andi Nygaard, Stephen Glackin.
12:20: Future Urban Infrastructure “Trees – rooting for a smart city?” – Richard Manasseh, Matthew Daniel, Stewart Detez, Scott Rayburg.



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Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the Yaluk-ut Weelam as the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet. Yaluk-ut Weelam means ‘people of the river camp’ and is connected with the coastal land at the head of Port Phillip Bay, extending from the Werribee River to Mordialloc. The Yaluk-ut Weelam are part of the Boon Wurrung, one of the five major language groups of the greater Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to the land, their ancestors and their elders—past, present and to the future.