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Research

My current project is called, Smarter Cities? Big Data, Ubiquitous Surveillance and Urban Management, or Ubicity for short, and it’s funded by the Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) under their Digital Economy theme. It runs from 2014-2019 and it is a critical comparative study of ‘smart city’ (or ‘intelligent city’ or ‘ubiquitous city’ etc.) initiatives in three countries: Canada, the USA and the UK, and it covers several urban projects in each of Toronto, New York City and London, as well as other either transversal or smaller and more specific military, police and private commercial themes and initiatives. The project has its own website, www.ubicity.ca, but it’s not proved very useful, so I am probably going to fold it back into this site soon.

I am working with two of my favourite Surveillance Studies scholars on this: Professor Steve Graham from Newcastle University in the UK (author of Cities Under Siege and co-author of Splintering Urbanism) and Torin Monahan at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, USA (author of Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity and co-author of SuperVision).

The project will involves an ever-changing team of graduate students, particularly doctoral researcher, Michael Carter (Geography), who is working on the Toronto study. Another of my PhD students, Debra Mackinnon (Sociology) is working on Business Improvement Areas in Vancouver and Toronto and her work is also adding to the project. There have been two completed MA students who have been funded by Ubicity: Vincenzo Alaimo (Sociology) who produced a thesis on Open Data initiatives and the Smart City in the York Region of Ontario, and  Jennie Day, who continues to work on the development of autonomous vehicles, but is now doing so as part of PhD project with Steve Graham and Roger Burrows at GURU in Newcastle, UK. I’m working on publications with all of them.

As is the case with these things, the project started to expand from the beginning with contacts in Spain / Catalunya (Barcelona), Japan (Yokohama) and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), which remain potential right now, but I hope to be collaborating with a number of other academic and commercial researchers in the same are to share our work and have some major joint events.

Ubicity has also organised panel sessions at major conferences, including the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference 2015 and Computers, Privacy and Data Protection 2017 (the link is to a full video of the session).

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