Smart Cities & Safe Mobility

The concept of Smart Cities is one appearing more frequently in academic and popular discourse evoking images of urban utopias with seamless traffic flows, safe neighborhoods, and data command centers that identify and resolve urban issues such as air pollution, traffic, and crime. These utopias have animated several initiatives, most notably the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative (2016). Implicit in these scenarios are the material infrastructure that supports them: high-speed connectivity, sensors, the Internet of Things, and Big Data.  In the light of ethical and political issues such as surveillance, algorithmic biases, and digital divide, this research probes whether smart cities technologies would be part of the solution to the problems of communication and community within the city, thereby improving the lives of citizens? Or, would they work to expand modes of participation and citizenship; or instead suppress communication and further distance and disintegrate communities? 

My research addresses these questions through theoretical inquiry and experimental designs. Currently, my research group and I are conducting an ethnographic case study of the smart cities initiatives in Atlanta while at the same time creating experimental designs that probe the relationship to sensor-based urban technologies, place, storytelling, and community.

Recent work includes a feminist analysis of algorithmic morality within the application area of self-driving cars, the uses and applications of data-driven safety apps (for women), and the deployment of smart cities technologies within mega events such as the Super Bowl.

Earlier speculative and theoretical publications look into location-based technologies such as Mixed Reality apps, urban screens, and location-based polling systems in their (in)abilities to mediated location-based modes of social engagement and participation. 

Related publications and presentations:

  1. “Rethinking Safe Mobility: The Case of Safetipin in India” Shubhangi Gupta, Sylvia Janicki, Pooja Casula, Nassim Parvin | in the International Conference on Information & Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2022). To appear.
  2. Shelby, Renee, Sarah Barnes, Nassim Parvin, and Mary G. McDonald. “The Conjoined Spectacles of the “Smart Super Bowl”.Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 6 (2020): 312-319.
  3. Nassim JafariNaimi, “Our Bodies in the Path of the Trolley; Or, why Self-driving Cars Must *not* Be Programmed to Kill.” Science, Technology, and Human Values 43: 2 (March 2018): 302–323.
  4. Nassim JafariNaimi, Kathi Kittner, Beth Coleman, “Smart yet (in)Sensible? Feminist Critical Perspectives on “Smart Cities.” (Open Panel, 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), August 2017). Panel I. and Panel II.
  5. Smart yet (in)Sensible? Feminist Critical Perspectives on Smart Cities.
  6. Nassim JafariNaimi, Kathi R. Kitner and Beth Coleman, Transmissions: An S|S|S blog September 2017.
  7. Nassim JafariNaimi, “MRas a Participatory Platform,” Digital Creativity 26, no. 3-4 (2015): 207–220.
  8. Rebecca Rouse, Maria Engberg, Nassim JafariNaimi, Jay Bolter, “MRx: An Interdisciplinary Framework for Mixed Reality Experience Design and Criticism,” Digital Creativity 26, no. 3-4 (2015): 175-181.
  9. Rebecca Rouse, Maria Engberg, Nassim JafariNaimi, Jay Bolter, “MRDesign and Criticism: The Confluence of Media Studies, Performance, and Social Interaction,” Digital Creativity 26, no. 3-4 (2015): 221-227.
  10. Rebecca Rouse, Nassim Jafarinaimi, Maria Engberg, and Jay Bolter, “Writing, Performance, Design: Frameworks for Understanding & Creating New Narratives in Augmented Reality.” (Paper presented at HASTAC 2013 – The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes. York University, Toronto, Canada. April 2013).