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An Exploration of Data Ideals in Possible Futures. Collaboration between the City of Eindhoven and Man & Communication


When our passport expires, we go to city hall and have it exchanged. The municipality has all the data in the computer; we bring a recent picture, sign our autograph and make a thumbprint. How long before this description of events becomes obsolete? 

Fourth-year students of Man & Communication have worked with the City of Eindhoven to formulate a range of design proposals for a future smart society in Eindhoven. With the aim of completely reinventing the municipality’s digital systems, the students worked all through the second semester of the past academic year exploring an array of questions surrounding data, governance and ownership.  

What would society look like if citizens had control of their own data? What would be the role of a government in such a society? How can citizens and government keep up with the speed at which technology is changing the world we live in? To what extent are these changes improving our quality of life? 
On 27 June the students presented the first outcomes of their visions for the future at DAE. A wide range of prototypes, visualisations, statements and concepts were on display, from a ‘data church’ to fluid politics that allow for improvisation, and from a full service society free from ownership to viewing the city as an empathic organism. 

In the project Smart Senses: Designing Surveillance for Citizen Participation, an EYE lights up when it detects your presence, microphones attached to EARS extend upon registering sound, and a NOSE sneezes when it recognizes a change in air composition. 

With these prototypes, student Jade Chan wants to equip citizens with interactive tools to discuss data collection. She envisages a smart city that is more democratic, where citizens become aware of what data is collected, and lets them decide how to engage with it. 

Another project that puts citizens at the centre is Fluid Politics. Student Martina Huynh proposes to replace today’s representative democracy with a participatory platform for political decision-making. 
Citizens can put up proposals or questions for collective deliberation so that city politics can adapt and respond quicker. 

Huynh proposes staging an open talk show to explore how such a system might unfold.  Of vital importance to her is ensuring that a wide demographic range of the population is accurately represented in the decision-making process. 

These and other striking ideas will be presented during Dutch Design Week, which will be held in Eindhoven from 21 to 29 October. Watch this space for further details.


Published: 19-Jul-2017 12:04


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  • Alternate Societies

    Jade Chan: Smart Senses- Designing Surveillance for Citizen Participation

  • Alternate Societies

    Jade Chan: Smart Senses- Designing Surveillance for Citizen Participation

  • Alternate Societies

    Fluid Politics - Martina Huynh

  • Alternate Societies

    Martina Huynh - Fluid Politics

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