Today, more than half of the world’s population live in urban settings. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise even further, to 6.5 billion people, with the vast majority being young people. Even by 2030, an estimated 60% of urban populations will be under the age of 18. It is therefore young people who are, and will be continuing to, drive the future of our cities.
This rapid urbanisation goes hand in hand with another global trend: the fast-growing spread of data-driven, digital technologies that are being used to improve the administration and governance of cities. These digital urban infrastructures can facilitate inclusive, democratic, and participatory decision-making, but they can also have the opposite effect. They can be used to surveil, monitor, and “datafy” people in public spaces, thereby potentially endangering rights. Therefore, we need to better understand how data-driven and digital technologies can support or threaten young people’s health, wellbeing, and livelihoods.
Responding to this need, and to ensure cities ethically and equitably deploy data-driven and digital technologies to give young people a greater say, Fondation Botnar is inviting applicants to submit research proposals as part of a new interdisciplinary research program: ‘Technology and youth participation in governing intermediary cities in LMICs’ (TYPCities). The program will run for three years (2023-2026).
Urban design is increasingly widely used for city-oriented security production, and thus becomes included into the latter’s complex politics of in- and exclusion. This contribution showcases how urban design becomes deployed as a technology of security both internationally and in Switzerland, and how a reflexive security studies perspective on this use offers productive new research avenues. This is because the focus on urban design allows asking in new ways whether ‘more security is better’, how technological interventions are used and appropriated, and how they reconfigure democratic processes. Security research drawing on reflexive IR and security studies is well placed to this endeavour, as it proposes integrative and dialectical analyses of how built environments may be empowering/disempowering and inclusive/exclusive. The contribution sets out the specificities of this research ontology, presents urban design’s operation as technology of security politics, and illustrates said link in two mini-case studies centring in Bogotá and Zürich. In line with the special section to which it contributes, the article seeks to familiarize readers with architecture-oriented political analysis, and to draw out main lines of further investigation.
Hagmann, Jonas; Kostenwein, David (2021). Urban design as technology of (counter-) democratic security politics. Swiss Political Science Review 27(1): 193-204. PDF
New technologies – from nanotech to drones, bioengineering and smart weapons – play prominent but also highly ambivalent roles in contemporary accounts of security politics. For some, the innovations represent potent solution to complex management problems. But for others, the new technologies themselves are causing the most pressing societal dangers of today. This dominant Manichean framing of technology yet distracts from the fact that technology has no deterministic effects in and of itself. In a reflexive security studies perspective, the shape, design and uses of ‘new tech’ is deeply enmeshed in shifting power-laden social and political practices, and thus much more contradictory and dynamic. This new special section focuses on these complex processes of making new technology meaningful – and operational – in the security field. Its seven contributions look at how cybersecurity, predictive policing, drones, artificial intelligence, targeted sanctions and urban design are enlisted as technologies of security in Switzerland, and they offer a range of dedicated analytical arguments about how this process evolves. The ambition of the special section is to introduce readers not commonly engaing with security technology with state-of-the-art conception of their political significance, and to showcase contributions of reflexive IR and security research to political analysis.
Dunn Cavelty, Myriam; Hagmann, Jonas (2021). The politics of technology and security in Switzerland. Swiss Political Science Review 27(1): 128-138. PDF
With contributions by Florian Egloff, Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Matthias Leese, Francisco Klauser, Andreas Wenger, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, Mark Daniel Jäger, Jonas Hagmann, David Kostenwein and Anna Leander.
The speed and scale of contemporary urbanization is unprecedented, and it brings along tremendous social, environmental, economic and politics problems – while also generating enormous opportunities for livelihood improvement. With a new Future Cities Lab Global, ETH Zürich seeks to integrate and strategically advance its natural science competencies in the domain of urban science. The ambition of FCL Global, on whose research plans and governance scheme I currently counsel, and which brings together about 25 professorships and senior scientists, and 50 post-docs and PhD students, is to produce inter-disciplinary and transformative research, teaching and public outreach. Focussing on the challenges of digitization, inclusive planning, blue/green/bright infrastructure development and public health-oriented design, among other things, it seeks to promote more sustainable forms of urbanization in European and Asian settlements, through science, by design, and in place.
Grêt-Regamey, Adrienne; Cairns, Stephen; Erath, Alex; Hagmann, Jonas; Stokols, Andrew (2018). Future Cities Lab Global: Outline Proposal. Singapore/Zürich: ETH Zürich and FCL Singapore, 88p. noPDF
My UdelaR colleague Diego Sanjurjo and I are currently in the field to trace how public authorities, citizens, private companies and civil society groups contribute to urban security politics in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. We also analyze how the country’s political heritage – a statist inclination and history of military dictatorship rule especially – conditions the politics of in- and exclusion in three different sub-city sites, Ciudad Vjeja, Tres Cruses Terminal, and Montevideo Shopping/World Trace Centre. First findings draw a fairly complex panorama in which new government programs for integrated citizen safety, generalized video surveillance, and significant expansions of the private security sector don’t succeed in curbing growths in crime and violence, heightened public sentiments of pervasive insecurity, and polarized political debates regarding the city’s future trajectories.
Montevideo is the third case study in the SNSF Ambizione research program “Securing the city: The global politics and practices of urban protection”. It connects and compares to political sociology work on the Swiss cities of Zürich, Basel and Bern, the Moroccan city of Marrakech, and the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.
For extended visual documentation of our Montevideo fieldwork see here.
What are technologies of violence, and how did they evolve? How do technologies relate to power relations in the field, and how do they instruct empirical and analytical work in the International Relations discipline? This conversation with Keith Krause, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva and Director the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) there, explores how technologies of violence evolved over time, and with what effects on security practice and analysis.
Dunn Cavelty, Myriam; Hagmann, Jonas (2018). Technologies of violence: A conversation with Keith Krause. In Kaltofen, Carolin; Carr, Madeline; Acuto, Michele (eds.). Technologies of International Relations: Continuity and Change, pp97-106. London/New York: Palgrave MacMillan. PDF