WALKSHOPS – TESTING A LOW THRESHOLD METHODOLOGY FOR PARTICIPATORY CITY MAKING
Keywords:Walkshop, Smart City, empowerment, data protection, methodology
AbstractThis research is about an inclusive, participatory methodology for smart city research: walking in the ‘datafied’ city. So-called walkshops facilitate experiences of and discussion about the environment in which social challenges arise, together with urban dwellers who may perceive them in different ways than decision-makers. We are investigating if walkshops provide a low-threshold methodology for meaningful involvement of all urban dwellers in technological decision-making, with a specific interest in the involvement of societal groups that are vulnerable. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, highlights the importance of transparency, accountability, and control of all technology users over the processing and use of their personal data. This includes so-called vulnerable data subjects. In smart, datafied cities, personal data protection provisions and rights could contribute to empowering urban dwellers. However, taking self-determined decisions regarding legal provisions and complex technical systems is often difficult, and nigh impossible for some. Despite the legal efforts to empower all data subjects vis-à-vis the processing of their personal data, inherent power imbalances remain, and the provisions hardly reach some groups. An important aim of the walkshop methodology is therefore to be inclusive and attractive for anyone. Against this backdrop, we describe how the methodology was tested, and evaluated during eighteen walks in the cities of Brussels, Gent, and Leuven. Evaluations by researchers, participants, and partner organisations, showed very promising results despite some methodological challenges (e.g. participant recruitment). Walkshops show the potential for socially relevant empirical work that creates win-win situations for researchers, public partners, and citizenries.
How to Cite
Breuer, J., Van Zeeland, I., & Pierson, J. (2023). WALKSHOPS – TESTING A LOW THRESHOLD METHODOLOGY FOR PARTICIPATORY CITY MAKING. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12978