Municipal applications are becoming a commonplace feature of urban life, with citizens increasingly using mobile and web platforms to voice their concerns over incidents of urban disorder and minor offenses in public space. Local authorities introduce such municipal apps (also known as ‘mobile city applications’ and ‘311 apps) to promote citizens’ participation and crowdsource information on the urban environment. Yet such apps are often adopted with little reflection on their potential unintended consequences, such as contributing to inequality in municipal policy and its priorities, the production of unreliable or partial data, and the transformation of municipal work processes.
In this seminar we bring municipal applications to the fore. We discuss their emergence, development, adoption and adaptation in different social, political, organizational and geographical contexts. Building on empirically rich data we critically engage with the questions that scholars, policymakers, municipal personnel and citizens reflect on with the growing number of municipal apps introduced around the world.
This international seminar concludes Phase II of the PUL-MOBIL (Producing Urban Legibility: Mobile City Applications and the Local Governance of Minor Offences) project of the Crime & Society research group of the VUB, funded by Innoviris (the Brussels-region research agency), and in cooperation with the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek. The project’s case study is the FixMyStreet mobile and web application introduced in Brussels in 2013 to allow citizens to make reports on incidents of urban disorder and minor offenses. The seminar will take place online, and will include the following contributions:
• Introduction by prof. Lucas Melgaco (CRiS, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), promotor of the PUL-MOBIL project.
• Data-led urbanism: Municipal apps as contested participatory politics
Dr. Lior Volinz (CRiS, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), post-doctoral researcher at the PUL-MOBIL project.
• A Critical Assessment of Open Data Practices in Brussels: Exploring Data Governance
Dr. Iris Steenhout (CRiS, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), post-doctoral researcher at the PUL-MOBIL project.
• From Counting to Accountability: Governing through Public and Private Urban Asset Applications
Dr. Debra Mackinnon
Assistant Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Lakehead University, Canada.
• Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Impacts of 311 apps on Equity in Public Service Delivery
Dr. Tian Tang
Associate Professor at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy and Director of the Sustainability and Governance Lab at Florida State University, U.S.
• FixMyStreet as a tool for a better Brussels: Our policy recommendations.
Prof. Lucas Melgaco
The presentation will be followed by an open discussion.
This seminar is free of charge and open to the public, but requires prior registration. A Microsoft Teams link to join the seminar will be sent to all registered participants ahead of the seminar. For any questions or inquiries, please contact dr. Lior Volinz at email@example.com.
Please register here until December 6th at the latest.