Design-enabled innovation in smart city context. Fostering social inclusion through intercultural interaction

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Alessandra RinaldiKiana Kianfar

Abstract: Generating design-enabled innovation implies the identification of social, technological, and cultural changes taking place nowadays and of the opportunities offered by the digital transformation, which enters these processes, playing an important role in all areas of contemporary life, from urban, domestic, health and services in general.In our era, the ambient intelligence pervades objects such as cities; electronic perception systems collect information and data from us, trying to understand our needs and give us answers. Cities are real living laboratories for experimenting new technologies on an urban scale.Big Data management represents one of the critical points of the ongoing revolution. The data can give information about people, understand behaviors, change city policies and so on. Big Data represent a qualitative leap in digital culture; nothing exists in Big Data before questions, explained De Kerckhove [1].“It is also and above all a cognitive revolution, where the answer no longer comes from the question. The large amount of data that comes from the pervasive use of technology already contains all the answers, but it has no value if it is not interrogated with the right questions. As McLuhan says, when all the answers are at hand, it's only the question that matters" [1].The perspective is then reversed: the first step in making society smarter is not to collect as much data as possible or develop an infallible algorithm, but it is necessary to identify the relevant expectations and needs in and for that society and ask the right questions, and to investigate what it represents, in the collective imagination, the quality of life and what technology can generate as a response.The project presented starts from the observation that we are faced with a strong migratory and global tourism flows that are affecting European cities, placing us in front of a growing multiculturalism in urban areas, with consequent issues related to the inclusion of cultural diversity and dialogue. The landscape of cities in many European countries has changed significantly, and the use of public space and services is no longer suited to the needs of multicultural citizens. This phenomenon has developed rapidly, without an adaptation of social policies, services, and spaces to emerging needs, creating evident problems of inclusion and dialogue between different cultures.Digital technologies and ubiquitous computing systems offer many opportunities for designing products and services aimed at increase interaction, collect, and share information, knowledge, emotions, experiences, through platforms that support the increase of social awareness.The research investigates how to use digital technologies and which design strategies and creative, communicative and process paths can be used to promote inclusion through interaction and communication between the different cultures that coexist in the same smart city context.Promoting interaction in public spaces, between citizens with different cultural backgrounds, becomes a crucial element to support social cohesion and to facilitate coexistence between different cultures. Opportunities to mix people in daily life reinforce shared values and goals.One of the best approaches that can be adopted for the design of new urban spaces and services is co-design, which indicates collective creativity as it is applied throughout a design process and involves all stakeholders, encouraging and supporting them to take an active role in this process.Following the indications of Findeli [2], this design research was carried out with the tools of design, and above all with its most original and specific characteristic, the project, developing in this specific case a pilot product-service.The project, funded within the H2020 framework program, made it possible to experiment with design tools to foster the engagement of different cultures present in the urban environment and encourage them to interact with each other, also including other types of stakeholders, from public administration to small/medium enterprises and to third sector associations.All the areas of cultural heritage, tangible, and intangible, where every culture has many stories to tell, have emerged as the most suitable areas for experimenting with new ways of interacting and communicating through which diversity can be encountered and compared. Five design for storytelling strategies guided the project: i) building relevance; ii) design for experience; iii) interactivity; iv) immersion; v) inclusion.[1] De Kerckhove Derrick, Psicologie connettive, Milano, Egea, 2014.[2] Findeli Alain, “Design research-Introduction”, Design Issues n. 15(2), 1999.

Keywords: cultural diversity, design for inclusion, interaction design, smart city, social innovation

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1001878

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