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Public-oriented mobility through digital technology


Design workshop at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography – PUTSPACE Project / Organised by Karol Kurnicki with support of the IfL


The workshop is part of the PUTSPACE fellowship that explores the digital dimensions of public transportation and public spaces. We will investigate the ways in which new technologies influence the social aspects of mobility, for instance differentiation of users or representations of urban spaces. During the practical part of the workshop, we will attempt to go beyond the critique of platforms and find ways towards solutions that counteract negative aspects of digitalisation.

The starting question for this workshop is: is it possible to envisage a digital tool that strengthens public values of transportation? To answer this, we will try to design a Mobility as a Service platform that prioritises social and public values.

The workshop focuses on mobility platforms to explore social and civic aspects of digital technologies. The platforms are becoming large-scale infrastructures, which promise to “disrupt” existing systems and significantly reorganise how mobility is done on many levels – from systemic to individual. The interaction with mobility platforms is becoming unavoidable in daily travel, even for those who do not carry digital devices.

At the same time, platforms are criticised for “civic deficiency” in many areas. As mostly private and proprietary technologies, they can be unaccountable to public scrutiny. They can use public resources, for instance existing infrastructures, for private financial gain without giving back to the community. They use surveillance and undermine privacy by processing data in an obscure way with others. The existence of platforms can turn into a colonisation of everyday urban life, where every good and service goes through a digital intermediary. The question that we will try to work with during the workshop is if these problems can be overcome and what “a good platform” could be.

We will look closer at Mobility as a Service platforms in order to explore the changing role of citizens/users of transportation, role of digital data in everyday travels and possibilities for engaging technology in strengthening mobility justice, emancipation, inclusiveness and sustainability of transportation.

The workshop is organised around a design project – we will use our imaginations, experiences, skills and creativity to try to design an application that strengthens mobility justice, preserves civic rights, protects privacy and supports sustainability. You do not need programming or advanced computer skills – the design part will be devoted to conceptualisation of a mobility system. At the same time, we will try to come up with a justice- and civil-oriented version of interfaces (such as applications), devices (such as sensors), computer systems (such as databases) or tech companies to better engage in design process.

Materials will be provided. You will be asked to read an academic article and look at examples of platforms online before the workshop.

Please confirm your participation by sending an E-Mail to Karol Kurnicki (kurnicki(at) before 28 February 2021.