|There is little
doubt that laptops, PDAs, and mobile phones have enabled computing to
become a truly mobile experience. With these new computing devices, we
emerge from our office, work, and school into the urban fabric of our
cities and towns. We often view these urban areas as “in-between
spaces” – obstacles to traverse from one place to another. However, not
only do we spend a significant amount of time in such urban landscapes,
but these spaces contribute to our own formulation of identity,
community, and self. Much of the richness of life transpires within our
own urban settings. Similarly, there is a growing body of work within
the field of social computing, particularly those involving social
networking such as Tribe, Friendster, and Live Journal. At the
intersection of mobile and social computing, we seek to provoke
discussion aimed at understanding this emerging space of computing
within and across our public urban landscapes – Urban Computing.
While toting a laptop around a city may seem a like an example of such
city computing, Urban Computing research is more deeply concerned with
addressing several sub-themes, including (but not limited to):
Place – What is the meaning of various public places? What cues
do we use to interpret place and how will Urban Computing re-inform and
alter our perception of various places?
Community – Who are the people we share our city with? How do
they influence our urban landscape? Where do we belong in this social
space and how do new technologies enable and disrupt feelings of
community and belonging?
Infrastructure – How will buildings, subways, sidewalks, parking
meters, and other conventional, physical artifacts on the urban
landscape be used and re-appropriated by emerging technology tools?
Traversal – What is a path or route through a city using these
new urban tools? How will navigation and movement, either throughout an
entire city or within a small urban space, be influenced by the
introduction of Urban Computing technology?
The single main research challenge of Urban Computing is to understand
how this future fabric of digital and wireless computing will influence,
disrupt, expand, and be integrated into the social patterns existent
within our public urban landscapes.