Call | Social Cities of Tomorrow

Social Cities of Tomorrow

Our everyday lives are increasingly shaped by digital media technologies, from smart cards and intelligent GPS systems to social media and smartphones. How can we use digital media technologies to make our cities more social, rather than just more hi-tech?

Our Call for Projects is now closed. We wish to thank all of you who have submitted a project. We have invited a small committee of experts, Maaike Behm (ARCAM), Ingeborg van Lieshout (Bright) and Chris Sigaloff (Knowledgeland/ Kennisland) to evaluate all proposals, and will announce the final selection shortly.

We invite you to send in a project for public presentation at the international conference Social Cities of Tomorrow.

Architects and planners, media makers, community organisers, local governments, local entrepreneurs, housing corporations, researchers, activists, designers and artists are invited to submit a ‘best practice’ that makes innovative use of digital media technologies in an urban context.

Deadline: 15 December 2011, 17:00 CET

About the event

In today’s cities, our everyday lives are increasingly shaped by digital media technologies – from smart cards and intelligent GPS systems to social media and smartphones. How can we use these technologies to make our cities more social, rather than just more hi-tech? Can digital technologies enable citizens to act on collectively shared issues? Can principles from online culture help to form new collectives around communal resources in an urban context? Can media technologies bring about a sense of place and connection among urbanites, and a feeling of ‘ownership’ of their environment?

These questions are the point of departure for the event Social Cities of Tomorrow. These questions will be addressed in a workshop and at an international conference that aims to bring together professionals from different backgrounds who are involved in the (social) design of the urban experience – from architects and planners, policy makers and community workers to artists and media & interface designers.

Selection criteria

The conference will feature 10 interesting, provocative, innovative projects relating to the conference themes that have made use of new media technologies in one form or another – from open data-projects to urban screens, from installations to social media, from social design to physical architecture that has adapted to new media uses. They can be actual projects, prototypes, competition entries, art installations, instances of ‘critical design’, etc.

In particular we are looking for projects in one or more of the following fields:

1. Data-commons
Sensing technologies and networked urban media create vast amounts of data about a wide range of urban processes and practices. These data can become a valuable resource, a platform on top of which new services and infrastructures can be built. We are looking for projects that have harvested or collected these data and put them to use in interesting ways, either in the process of urban design itself, or to intervene in urban life and/or to mobilise publics. We are also looking for projects that have used urban datasets to bring out, visualise and manage collective issues in innovative ways.

2. Sense of place and a feeling of ‘ownership’
To engage people with communally shared issues, it is essential that people envision themselves as part of the urban fabric, and understand that their individual actions make a difference to the common good. Meanwhile they should also trust that other urbanites act accordingly. Which projects have made use of digital to foster a shared sense of belonging and responsibility, and a feeling that indeed the city is ‘ours’ to take and shape? We are looking for projects that have explored digital tools for story-telling, urban games, data visualisations and interactive media facades to bring about such a sense of place and a sense of ‘ownership’. We are interested in projects with an interesting link between architecture as physical urban design and new media design.

3. DIY urban design & networked publics
‘Networked publics’ are groups of people that use social media and other digital technologies to organise themselves around collective goals or issues. In online culture, networks of ‘professional amateurs’ create ‘user generated content’ or take part in ‘citizen science’ projects. Think of open source software or Wikipedia as successful examples. Which projects have ported these principles from online culture, like self-organisation and collective action, to urban life in order to make it more ‘social’ as well? For instance, which projects have used new media technologies to involve citizens in designing their own city, and to include them in governing urban issues? From a bottom-up perspective, what are examples of how these technologies are used to create and manage publics around communal resources?

Submitting a proposal: conditions and procedure

Proposal requirements
1) project title
2) project description in less than 600 words
3) indication of the present status of the project (finished, ongoing)
4) people and/or organisations involved in the project, and their tasks/responsibilities
5) (expected) output of the project
6) relation of the project to the conference theme
7) additional technical requirements for project presentation at conference (where applicable)
8) images of the project
9) your contact details
10) short cv (200 words) and photograph of yourself (if you are selected you get a spot on the website).

What we offer if your proposal is selected

  • A 10 minute time slot to present your project for an international audience of 150 professionals
  • Free conference pass
  • Standard technical facilities (computer, beamer, microphone). For additional requirements please include this in your proposal
  • Your biography, photographic material, and project description will be published on the conference website.
  • €250 (incl. VAT) contribution towards travel/accommodation etc.


  • Send in your proposal no later than 15 December 2011 17:00 CET (GMT+1).
  • A shortlist will be drawn up no later than 20 December 2011, and communicated to everyone who has sent in a proposal.
  • Those who are selected to present will receive a briefing with further practicalities on 21 December 2011.
  • Further assistance and practical arrangements can be made in the period leading up to the conference on 17 February 2012 in Amsterdam.

About the organisers

Social Cities of Tomorrow is organised by The Mobile City and Virtueel Platform, in partnership with ARCAM. The event is made possible by a generous contribution from the Pauwhof Fonds.