Notes on a participation in the meeting about “Citizen Science in Social Sciences and Humanities”

On the 7th and 8th of March, Manuel Portela (GEO-C ESR15) assisted to the meeting “Mapping opportunities and challenges for Citizen Science in Social Sciences and Humanities” as part of the COST Action “Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe”. The meeting, held in the Kaunas University Of Technology (Lithuania) and organised by Egle Butkeviciene (KTU) and Katrine Vohland (MFM Berlin), gathered 15 participants from different fields inside Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the particularities of SSH inside the context of Citizen Science. Therefore, different sessions organised generated an agenda to promote the research on this topic.

The main concern of the meeting was the difficulty of including SSH scientists and citizens’ alike in research projects, despite of the promotion and support of funding agencies. It was also accounted that SSH has a large background in participatory practices, and a widely history on governance and engagement, which is nowadays of special interest for the (European) research agenda. As a result, one of the main barriers for transdisciplinarity could be the intrinsic difficulty of the object of study (objective, subjective and intersubjective, to name some). The lack of common ground, terminology and concepts inside the Sciences make this task unaffordable for both sides.

In this vein, Science is to create useful knowledge for society, whether the problem in the multidisciplinary approach resides in what data is considered valid (and objective) to be used for producing this Science. In that sense, Science is also useful in the use and understanding of such knowledge for more practical outcomes. Thus, in the literature, experts appear as the only ones who have the knowledge. In contrast, non-experts (i.e. citizens) are presented as the individuals that will use this knowledge for personal or collective purposes. Far from reality, this and other conflicts between concepts were put under discussion during the meeting.

The outcome of this meeting was to write a publication that accounts on how participatory practices and citizen involvement have been historically constructed. Moreover, the paper will also contribute to how SSH can help other sciences in the development of (European) projects. In this regard, SSHs has the mission to put the policies that are shaping the future of research under a critical view. By this first approach, it is expected to encourage more multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary works in Citizen Science.

Opening Smart cities: challenges to engage citizens through information systems – ECIS workshop

To organize a scientific event in the form of a workshop as part of the 25th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). ESR 01,03,04,05,06,13 and 15 gathered in Guimaraes – Portugal to discuss the topic of “Opening Smart cities: challenges to engage citizens through information systems.”

The workshop aimed to allow space for the participants and organizers to reflect on current smart cities practices and their challenges, and possible ways to address them. It was particularly emphasized by the call that the participants considered and proposed over the importance of effective citizen engagement strategies and platforms within the smart cities’ context.

Different activities took place during the workshop: presentation session and brainstorming session. The presentations covered a broad range of topics (citizen engagement, privacy from the smart city’s point of view, participatory budget and transformation of smart and sustainable cities). After the presentations, an interactive session was built on the group discussion and brainstorming. The topics included “IoT & Privacy in smart cities,” “Openness in smart cities: challenges and impact” and “Sense of place to promote participation in smart cities.” Participants were divided into two groups, and finally, they all agreed on common issues concerning the participation of citizens in city contexts such as isolation, exclusion and lack of participation.

More information on the workshop can be found here:

Pictures of the workshop:


GEO-C ESRs developed a map survey at Lisbon’s Freguesia de São Domingos de Benfica meeting

Yesterday, Albert Acedo (ESR04) and Manuel Portela (ESR15) developed a survey as a part of their joint research with the local community of San Domingos de Benfica, a neighbourhood in Lisbon. The meeting was organized by the Junta de Freguesia de Domingos de Benfica and the NGO CDI Portugal for the promotion of the participatory budget.

The survey was the first step to test how dwellers of the neighbour can perceive and feel their sense of place and social capital by mapping themselves and their social groups in a local cartography. The next steps will include a digital application that Acedo is developing and will be released next month, and an ethnographic experience that will be held with same participants next week.

The outcome of the research, is meant to provide some insights on how neighbours can improve their quality of live by enhancing their neighbourhood sense of belonging, emotional engagement, and civic participation.


CfP Workshop @ ECIS2017: Opening Smart Cities: Challenges to engage citizens through information systems

We, some of the ESRs from the “GEO-C – Geoinformatics: Enabling Open Cities” project, would like to invite you to our half-day pre-conference workshop part of the 25th Annual European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2017). This workshop entitled “Opening Smart Cities: Challenges to engage citizens through information systems” aims to explore and discuss the potential of information systems to engage citizens in the development of smart cities through e-participation technologies.

The session will take place on June 6, 2017, in conjunction with the ECIS 2017 in Guimarães, Portugal. The deadlines for short papers (max. 2000 words) submissions are on April 3, 2017 and we encourage you to submit your paper as a .pdf to us, along with the authors’ names and contact details to The main topics we will address will be:

  • E-participation in smart cities
  • Citizen engagement platforms in smart cities
  • Open data and governance towards open and inclusive cities
  • Participatory and critical design in urban decision-making processes
  • New kinds of interaction between citizens and other stakeholders in open cities
  • Different performance of citizens on using ICT for e-participation: gender, age, education, etc
  • Reflections for e-participation: Best practices, failures & practical challenges.

We are looking forward to your submission!
Continue reading

Smart City Expo, perspective from geospatial researchers

Attending the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) is a common desire within ITC-related professionals and researchers, you find in a single place all commercial solutions, some customers showing their own experience with Smart City projects, some Experts discussing about future trends, and academics interested on meeting “Real” products to feed their own research.

img_8689 img_8688

Between thousands of attendees there were seven Geotec members walking through Europa Fira, listening to interesting and motivational speeches, while digging into multiple ideas from entrepreneurs, local government agents, young researchers and well-known companies.

Most remarkable issues there at the Expo were related to:circular economy, sustainable mobility, open data and artificial intelligence. Regarding there were…

Discussion about Sustainable Mobility was a full track on the agenda, and walking/cycling experiences were presented everywhere, a mix of mobile apps, infrastructure plan, sharing/rented projects were presented. Main tendency is to have less private individual vehicles and more public and shared bicycles, therefore cycling infrastructure will be part of this transformation. The session “Walkable and cyclable cities” easily resumes those innitiatives.

SCEWC2016 offered a rich set of keynote speakers, but Parag Kanna’s presentation about connected cities had an important effect on attendees, his map-based speech showed future trends on urbanization and development of future cities (also smart). With a global view of connections he explained briefly how the world is showing us tendencies that must be attended, with his web tool those tendencies could be explored and analyzed.

Another interesting Keynote, gave by Susan Etlinger, was about how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can be implemented in new solutions for cities, enhancing new developments such as image recognition, self-driving cars and conversational assistants.

Finally, the importance of sharing economy and governance of the city commons was presented by David Bollier. This alternative forms of creating economical development is rising on cities like Barcelona, looking to strengthen local business and entrepreneurship.


Prof. Michael Gould presented the preliminary results of the ESR07 project in the “Solutions for More Inclusive and Participative Cities (elevator pitch format)” track.

A full three days event is always exhausting, but attending during different days as a group will allow to identify multiple trends and development, this exercise helped Geotec on having a global look at state-of-the-art commercial solutions for Smart Cities.

ESR were also in contact with local partners from the program. Castellón City Hall representatives were present at the event, looking for solutions to improve the city. Also ESR15 shared experiences in the Urbiotica’s stand, who presented its solution to different stakeholders.  

(*) Geotec Researches who attended the Smart City Expo: Fernando Benitez (ESR11), David Frias,  Khoi Ngo (ESR06), Diego Pajarito (ESR07), Manuel Portela (ESR15), Luis Rodriguez, Sergi Trilles, Michael Gould.




GEO-C researchers presented their results on the International UCAmI Conference 2016


The 10th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Ambient Intelligence UCAmI 2016 took place from November 29th to December 2nd in Canary Islands. The Spanish based conference was a place to meet different Smart City related topics that involve technologies from eHealth to Internet of Things solutions. This openness of topics helped to know how different approaches can be interrelated in a Smart City context, providing challenges in communication, protocol integrations and citizen involvement.

GEO-C Members assisted to present two papers. Firstly, Manuel Portela (ESR15) presented at the HCI track its research project “Methods to observe and evaluate interactions with everyday context-aware objects”. The talk was centered on Design Research methods such as Ethnography and Ethnomethodology that are being used in the project to evaluate new interactions in the urban space.

Secondly, Auriol Degbelo presented the paper on “Toolkits for smarter cities: a brief assessment“. This short paper looked into the areas of smart city toolkit research which are relatively uncovered by the scientific community. The gist of the presentation was that toolkits for smarter cities are emerging, but aspects such as user-centeredness, component integration, openness and documentation are still relatively uncovered.

The event was a good opportunity to meet new developments in the academic scenario of Smart Cities in Spanish Universities.

Notes on Design & The City Conference: Controversies on Urban Participation and Participatory Sensing

CgpPa8KWYAAaopbIt is well known that participation and citizen engagement is a hard goal to accomplish in cities. Applied technologies to public participation have brought new opportunities to the field. Beyond all the good intentions, there are a lot of grey zones in what society have accomplished by engaging the public. The disappointments in SmartCity projects are usually related to tools that where designed or defined in narrow ways, giving only a unidirectional sense. And as Dorien De Molder pointed, the “Smart City discourse is normative”, It’s based on and reinforces particular beliefs about relationship between people, power and digital technologies.

During the last week I attended to the Design and The City conference and workshops, in Amsterdam.
The event was curated by Martijn De Waal, who in his book “The city as Platform” gives us an idea on how the public context and technology are changing our perception about familiar places.

Continue reading