Designing Participatory Smart Cities

Public Lecture – Bristol 18 December 2015

Background; Building on the work referenced on this blog, and a forthcoming book chapter on CityZens (2016) a public lecture will be given using the following slides to prompt a discussion on how we might develop the processes that will enable us to become “CityZens in the Network Society.”

Slideshare; the following slides will be used and will continue to be updated for a few days. This blog post is being made available for comments to be posted for the public session, before, during and after the public session. A fuller blog post will follow after the presentation. If you wish to use Twitter please use the hastag #cmircity


4 thoughts on “Designing Participatory Smart Cities

  1. Great talk fred. The informal atmosphere and in depth questions and answers led to a stimulating inauguration of the CMIR Open Talks. My question to you was: what 5 things in you participative city concept could we talk to the Hybrid Stokes Croft project? See 3 papers below which will help you understand what I mean. I would say you need:

    1 hooks / links with key stakeholders (you mentioned this, we call it co-design), in community projects this is a key factor
    2 Design principles (a key one for Hybrid Stokes Croft is Zone of Possibility)
    3 Design patterns
    4 Design thinking and process that advances and/or bridges our social/cultural capital
    5 examples/scenarios of what has worked (links to 3)

    I/we have submitted a paper to Edmedia 2016 which shows you what I mean for work with nurses and GP practices in Learning Layers project.

    “Using the Participatory Patterns Design (PPD) Methodology to Co-Design Groupware: Confer a Tool for Workplace Informal Learning”

    John Cook, Yishay Mor, Patricia Santos, Tamsin Treasure-Jones, Raymond Elferink, and Micky Kerr

    Abstract: This paper proposes a methodology which attempts to address the barriers to the development of successful educational design research through a process which identifies gaps in current practices and devises innovations to target them. Educational design research assumes an ambitious position: a dual commitment to understand and contribute to both theory and practice. This task is confounded by the complexity of the domain and the inherent multi-stakeholder nature of most initiatives. Three barriers to success are identified: the shortage of mechanisms for cross-stakeholder dialogue, the failure to account for existing practices and contexts, and the rigid processes dictated by the dynamics of research projects. We report findings from an attempt to address these barriers. Confer is a Groupware tool that provides support to bridge face2face and online discussions by workgroups and has been co-designed with users by following the Participatory Patterns Design (PPD) methodology. The PPD provides a framework for engaging multidisciplinary communities in collaborative reflection on educational innovation in a given domain.

    Submitted paper available:

    See also:
    Cook, J. and Lander, R. (2016) Urban regeneration within the zone of possibility in citizen led ‘hybrid cities’. In: Digital-Cultural Ecology and the Medium-Sized City, Bristol, UK, 01-03 April 2016. [In Press] Available from:

    Cook, J., Lander, R. and Flaxton, T. (2015) The zone of possibility in citizen led ‘hybrid cities’. In: Workshop on Smart Learning Ecosystems in Smart Regions and Cities, Toledo, Spain, 15 September 2015. Available from:

    Regards John


    1. Thanks! I will reflect on this first, but certainly out Origin of Spaces work , like your UK online centres work, suggest hooks reflecting local characteristics, is a key starting point. Plus Deptford is built around a Creek & actions maintaining the Creeks (contextual) characteristics will critical in making that work as a cultural regeneration area


    2. Q. How can we apply Participatory City to Stokes Croft? (Or anywhere?) Provide 5 key points!
      1. Firstly – life is unpredictable (unexpected outcomes) but you need to *bring* a mix of formal & informal strategies.
      2. It’s the people stupid! People have varying characteristics & motivations, but that is what you have to work with & what will make any local activity work.
      3. Work with the context on offer, and build around that (it’s where the motivating “hook” will come from. In Covent Garden it was the market, in Deptford the Creek, in Bilbao the peninsula. What gives Stokes Croft it’s “sense of place” ?
      4. Work with the council, not “for the council” but with them. Find out what you do that can help them. Solve the problem they don’t know they have got yet.
      5. Use social media to create bridges between people, community & (representative) authority, by telling stories about the new… (To be continued)


      1. Thanks Fred, starting to take shape, 3-5 need use cases/case study/patterns to be of use … guess you know that and maybe an area for us to co-work on/bid for …

        Instructive video from 1927 (see, of the time of course in that it shows 4 minutes into video ‘husbands amusing themselves whilst wives cook Sunday dinner’! Nevertheless, London at a time of transition where horse and cart and a motorcycle combination are seen on the streets together, new forms of mobility … now we have technology in the cities with Uber changing the way we car share but leading to new forms of deregulation by the back door? Cities and society at liminal moments are interesting for me as a designer of socio-technical cities. 2016 tomorrow! About to talk Cortana, the smart Windows 10 assistant sleeping in my new PC OS … Cortana is avatar from Halo … of course there is a problem with Microsoft accounts home page so no service for now, LoL … waiting for the 94 Bus to Acton Green then 😉

        As William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”; not a cliché and in fact quite prophetic.

        Happy New Year …


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