Social engagement in the digital society

As we approach the end of 2020, it has become important within our research to reflect back on the areas of investigation which have formed an important part of our track record over the years. It has been especially important to deflect on and to reconsider how we go about engaging in research, and particularly with regard to collaboration with project partners and the close involvement of various stakeholder groups in the work itself.

The mainstay, through much of the research we have undertaken in the past few years, has been a dedication towards exploring how our built environment might be affected by emerging digital technologies. This work has sometimes manifested itself in the exploration of new technologies and how they affect the likes of design construction and manufacture. It has also, though, very often concerned how such technology can influence our perception of the world around us, including within the context of the built heritage. This latter point has included studies which specifically seek to better understand how we can represent, share information and inform decision making through the use of technology which actively enables the production of abstract and unexpected views of the familiar. This has, for example, included our use of laser scanning to engage research participants, and has enabled us to work with world-leading researchers, including the 3D Survey Group in Milan. Such activity allowed us to discuss and share ideas regarding technology, visualisation and social research, whilst also helping our own group to better appreciate leading edge technological developments.

As we continue such work, it has become apparent that our studies concerning sustainable cities and mobility require a similarly citizen focussed approach, including the extensive use of mobile scanning (Kaarta Contour) to produce abstracted views of our environment. One of our Instagram feeds (curated by Daria Belkouri and prepared through our work in Civitas PORTIS) has some brilliant examples, and our continuing work regarding autonomous vehicles (Art-Forum – led for RGU by David Gray – and PAV) has certainly dedicated much time to discussion of people and technology, and how potentially disruptive technical solutions require to fully engage with end users in their design, planning and implementation.

Our colleagues at Aalborg Municipality have prepared a quite brilliant video, which details and illustrates many of these key issues, in award winning style!

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