Workshop: Co-creating the Civic Smart City in Brussels

The ‘smart city’ is all around us, both in discourses on the city (of tomorrow) as well as physically and digitally. Increasingly, the city and urban life are platformed and interfaced, packed with sensors and other data gathering means, governed by algorithms and (big) data processing, all while being populated more and more with connected devices. Yet, many of us are not that readily familiar with the smart city as a concept, nor its technologies and possibilities. The latter begs the question of how we can include and involve more citizens in what is also to be their smart city?

One answer is to consider to what extent smart applications can be (co-)created to make urban projects more relevant and in line with local needs and aspirations. To begin this series of 'Co-creating the Civic Smart City' workshops in partnership with cityfab1, Urban Species proposes an exploration of the various perspectives on participatory civic engagement in Brussels. What is the position of citizens towards civic engagement in a connected city? How can we create new ways of engaging with and/or through so-called 'smart' devices?  

As part of a series of thematic activities, this first workshop will focus on air quality. The first step will be to identify the opportunities and challenges of capturing and transmitting air quality data. How can this information be shown and shared with the largest possible audience? Where does the data come from? How can we stimulate civic engagement and action on this issue? 

The second part of the workshop will be devoted to the creation of an Urban Species Mobile Unit* with the participants, in which various elements for capturing, transmitting and activating air quality data will be integrated in a playful and aesthetic way.

Update: the workshop report is available.

29 October 2021: Conference and co-creative workshop

The morning will be devoted to the presentation of a panel of recent and Brussels-based projects. The initiatives that will be presented seek to promote the inclusion of citizens in the development of the Smart City which, let's not forget, is also their Smart City! The potential role of fablabs in the co-creation of the Smart City will also be discussed.

9:30 - Welcome and introduction: Co-creation and DIY in the Smart City
- Maité Dupont (cityfab1)
- Aude Robert (Smart City Brussels City)
- Céline Vanderborght (CIRB / Smart City Brussels Region)

10:00 - Urban Species Toolbox: Approaches for smart citizen engagement
- Thomas Laureyssens & Greg Nijs (Urban Species)
- Merlijn De Rijcke (RenovaS)

10:45 - Air quality in the smart city of Brussels - mapping problems and considerations

12:00 - Lunch 

13:00 - Workshop: Co-creation of a mobile urban air quality species unit

After these inspiring projects, you may want to get down to business! We propose a workshop on the theme of air quality. The aim? Build a Mobile Unit. This tool, developed by Urban Species, will allow you to visualise air quality data using luminous and coloured messages. Your creation can then be placed in the city and can raise awareness about the importance of air quality.