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OurCity Exhibited at Future Everything

The VoiceYourView group from the School of Computing and Communications were at Future Everything in Manchester this month demonstrating their OurCity technology.

OurCity combines physical connections with Manchester with feelings about and aspirations for the city. It is a prototype for a new way for people to have their voice heard and to act together to shape a new plan for the city, to reduce the gap between citizens and policymakers, and form new groupings based on commitment to social action.

OurCity is a response to a new technology and the opportunities it provides for connecting people and place. It is driven by VoiceYourView developed at Lancaster University, a system for collating and analysing thousands of individual comments, to reveal patterns of theme, sentiment and actionability. In OurCity comments are solicited in a number of ways, but mainly by text or via a web app optimised for smart-phones. The comments do not have to conform to a fixed format so the analysis avoids reducing individual perspectives to 'mere' statistics the way a survey might. The project combines individual perspectives with statistical insight in a way that helps viewers / participants identify themselves as active constituents of Manchester, not mere observers. In this way, OurCity is about how individuals relate to the whole and about how ideas about a city map to its geography.

The installation in the FutureEverything art space encouraged viewers to locate themselves in the city by expanding space. Engaging with the installation involves a sense of connection with the city beyond the walls of the gallery until the area you feel you are inhabiting is at least 10 km across. Engaging with the installation also involves locating your own feelings and aspirations for to the city amongst thousands of others.

OurTravel also exhibited at Future Everything - video clips of both OurCity and OurTravel should be available soon.

Tue 31 May 2011

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