Lately, I have been trying to picture what a public space is, in times of surveilled public squares and pandemic restrictions. I imagine it as a “cold spot”, as opposed to the hyperconnectivity of internet hot spots. Take green areas, an essential feature of urban cartography. Wellbeing restorative space, without entry ticket, just around the corner. We need urban zones, ideally the whole public space of a city, where the same principles apply to the digital layer of space. No screens and interfaces, no commercial nor surveillance data extraction. Cold spots match key social properties of public space (i.e., mixity, interaction, sense of belonging) with the restorative ones of green spaces (i.e., mental and physical well-being, reducing emissions, biodiversity), on the background of a trusted technology infrastructure. Springer just released its Handbook of Smart Cities
, where you can find a paper
I co-authored which provides a first attempt at defining cold spots, and foresees disposable identities as a means to go through these spaces.
The European Commission recently launched an initiative called the New European Bauhaus
, whose ambition is to match the green transition, aesthetics and wellbeing. For the moment we have limited information (a short overview here
). But if I think of the original Bauhaus tenet, that form should follow function, our cities have too many hidden and antidemocratic features.