UVA Smart Environments: Date, Policies, Design

The UVASMART ENVIRONMENTS project challenges the social equity and urban spatial implications of data informatics. In a 3-year project, a group of scholars will contribute an architectural, ecological, and urban policy perspective to a broader Humanities Informatics initiative at UVA that aims at a critical, and often-neglected humanities dialogue within information studies and data science. This project is supported by the Human Informatics Lab at UVA and led by School of Architecture Professors, Mona El Khafif and Jeana Ripple.

The project’s first year is devoted to DATA Dialogues. While ‘the digital’ is often described as a revolution for architecture, urbanism, and the social realm, this year’s DATA Dialogues will focus on both its successes and its failures specifically regarding a lack of legible embedded assumptions or clear data ethics. Ultimately, DATA Dialogues will focus the next stage of the project—Data Projects and a Data Exchange symposium—helping to hone focus topics, sites and data of interest, and target outcomes.

While data access helps us collect more information, many questions remain, such as a) are we harnessing the right data to improve the design and quality of life in our communities?; b) who sets data policies and based on what feedback?; and c) how do we promote stewardship toward a sustainable future? Data is neither “bad” nor “good”; the difference is in its application.

DATA Dialogues will take place in different formats to engage the community and to find answers to the questions raised. Formats range from guest lectures with a follow up discussion, pecha kucha-style presentations and breakout groups, hands-on workshops, and a summarizing panel at the end of the first year, which will close the dialogues with a set of provocations and new findings.