Games for Cities

#3
Citizen City / Eindhoven

You are a resident of Woensel-Noord, Eindhoven’s largest working-class neighbourhood. You don’t use a smartphone and neither you nor your partner make frequent use of the internet. And why would you, when all of your social and work-related contacts take place just around your home?

However, there is a problem. The City of Eindhoven is increasingly working towards becoming the ‘smartest city’ in the Netherlands, at the forefront of collecting and using big data in city-making strategies. Your city is using this data to inform and – as city officials keep promising – significantly improve the region’s future. This is all good and well; except that you are not connected to the virtual networks used to collect all of this data. So you will likely not be included in any of these databases.

How will these future solutions affect you, a long-time citizen of Eindhoven, when your daily life and experiences are not picked up by the ‘smart city’ monitors busy collecting endless amounts of clicks and GPS-locations? Will your concerns and needs be represented – let alone addressed – in this new form of city-making? This situation drove us to formulate the Citizen City Challenge. With you and your communities’ interests in mind, we ask:

HOW CAN GAMES VOICE CITIZENSEVERYDAY STORIES AND EXPERIENCES IN THE TIME OF BIG DATA?

As an inherently interactive method, gaming has the ability to position itself right in the gap between technology and user. Moreover, it is a method that is able to both process the large amounts of information typical of smart-city innovations as well as present this in a user-friendly and intuitive format.

Het Nieuwe Instituut’s DATAstudio has been focussing on how citizens relate to digital data that is collected and used for policymaking by local governments. DATAStudio – a programme within the State of Eindhoven, and our local partners – have been conducting research into available data and technological capabilities combined with the reality of the street and the needs of residents. They are interested in what it means to residents to live in a ‘smart city’, and in promoting civic technologies. The City of Eindhoven and Design Academy Eindhoven, together with the Games for Cities team, will engage in prototyping a city-game for collecting more holistic and inclusive datasets, and simultaneously functioning as a platform for enhanced social connectedness.

Eindhoven’s challenge concerns TACKLING LONELINESS AND INCLUSION AMONG ELDERLY RESIDENTS who often fall through the net of smart city monitors.

This is particularly pressing for neighbourhoods such as Woensel Noord, where one in five residents in the neighbourhood is above 65 years old. This neighbourhood is host to the highest proportion of elderly residents in Eindhoven, but it represents a trend in demographic distributions that will become increasingly more prevalent in the coming decades.

We plan to tackle Eindhoven’s Citizen City Challenge through the following events:

You are a resident of Woensel-Noord, Eindhoven’s largest working-class neighbourhood. You don’t use a smartphone and neither you nor your partner make frequent use of the internet. And why would you, when all of your social and work-related contacts take place just around your home?

However, there is a problem. The City of Eindhoven is increasingly working towards becoming the ‘smartest city’ in the Netherlands, at the forefront of collecting and using big data in city-making strategies. Your city is using this data to inform and – as city officials keep promising – significantly improve the region’s future. This is all good and well; except that you are not connected to the virtual networks used to collect all of this data. So you will likely not be included in any of these databases.

How will these future solutions affect you, a long-time citizen of Eindhoven, when your daily life and experiences are not picked up by the ‘smart city’ monitors busy collecting endless amounts of clicks and GPS-locations? Will your concerns and needs be represented – let alone addressed – in this new form of city-making? This situation drove us to formulate the Citizen City Challenge. With you and your communities’ interests in mind, we ask:

HOW CAN GAMES VOICE CITIZENSEVERYDAY STORIES AND EXPERIENCES IN THE TIME OF BIG DATA?

As an inherently interactive method, gaming has the ability to position itself right in the gap between technology and user. Moreover, it is a method that is able to both process the large amounts of information typical of smart-city innovations as well as present this in a user-friendly and intuitive format.

Het Nieuwe Instituut’s DATAstudio has been focussing on how citizens relate to digital data that is collected and used for policymaking by local governments. DATAStudio – a programme within the State of Eindhoven, and our local partners – have been conducting research into available data and technological capabilities combined with the reality of the street and the needs of residents. They are interested in what it means to residents to live in a ‘smart city’, and in promoting civic technologies. The City of Eindhoven and Design Academy Eindhoven, together with the Games for Cities team, will engage in prototyping a city-game for collecting more holistic and inclusive datasets, and simultaneously functioning as a platform for enhanced social connectedness.

Eindhoven’s challenge concerns TACKLING LONELINESS AND INCLUSION AMONG ELDERLY RESIDENTS who often fall through the net of smart city monitors.

This is particularly pressing for neighbourhoods such as Woensel Noord, where one in five residents in the neighbourhood is above 65 years old. This neighbourhood is host to the highest proportion of elderly residents in Eindhoven, but it represents a trend in demographic distributions that will become increasingly more prevalent in the coming decades.

We plan to tackle Eindhoven’s Citizen City Challenge through the following events:

Event #1
The Citizen City Game Talk Show

The Citizen City-Game Talk Show will host a number of local and international city-gaming experts to discuss the role of gaming in creating more democratic cities in the time of big data.

The Talk Show will function as a foundation and springboard for creativity during the Game Jam process that follows it. The Talk Show kicks off at 09:30 on Wednesday morning (March 22nd), starting with a presentation from our invited guest speaker at DesignHuis Eindhoven. Following this, there will be a roundtable discussion with various Eindhoven and urban design experts. Designers will then receive their design briefing from Linda Vlassenrood, city officials, housing corporations and the Seniors Platform in Woensel Noord.

Event #2
The Citizen City Game Jam

The Citizen City-Game Jam will bring together a team of designers and researchers who will work together with local residents to create a prototype for testing big data against real citizen stories.

DATAstudio has been documenting in-depth stories of local residents through various workshops in Woensel Noord. These individual stories can be found on the DATAstudio website (datastudio-eindhoven.nl), but they also illustrate the various ‘Data Deserts’ present in Eindhoven, leading to a range of proposals for tackling this issue. Based on this, Games for Cities was asked to develop a game to simultaneously improve the quality of data collected and empower citizens through making meaning out of data and helping them to take action.

Games for Cities’ structure for game jams involves working with young and upcoming designers who show an interest in cities and games (and in this case also data), and pairing these novices up with our city- and game-design- experts. This will involve an intensive workshop process, and take place over a 48-hour period on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2017. For this project we will be joined by a group of 13 fourth-year Design Academy students exploring the question of what society would look like if citizens had complete control over their own data. Thus, an interdisciplinary team of local designers and researchers will work together with local residents to create a prototype City-Game that will tackle the issues mentioned above. The primary result of this process will be an analog City-Game designed specifically for the elderly in Woensel Noord.