Digital disruptions and transport

Wednesday 4 May 2016
1.00 - 2.00pm

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Madsen Rm 449, Madsen Building, Eastern Ave, The University of Sydney


Explore current innovations in geographical research and cutting edge trends in socio- spatial theory throughout this seminar series.

Geographers and the Environment with Assoc. Prof Kurt Iveson (Geosciences) & Prof. Robyn Dowling (Architecture) 

At the recent Transport Summit held in NSW the potential of technology to realise sustainable and productive transport aspirations was assumed. In their presentations for this session, both Robyn and Kurt will test that assumption.

In her presentation, Robyn will reflect on the different paths (one success, one failure) of two technological disruptions to the transport system. The first is the continuing failure to legalise use of small electrically–powered devices on footpaths and cycleways in Australian cities. The second is the phenomenal growth of car sharing. The predominance of automobility permeates both stories, I argue, and hence provides valuable lessons for contemporary debates.

Similarly, in his presentation, Kurt will examine the different fortunes of two experiments in technologically-enabled ‘demand-responsive transport’. Both Kutsuplus (Helsinki) and Bridj (Boston and Washington DC) offer bus services in which routes and timetables are algorithmically adjusted in ‘real-time’ or in regular cycles in response to customer demand. Kurt will argue that different fates of these two services – the recent winding-up of Kutsuplus and the on-going growth of Bridj – can tell us much about the ways in technological possibilities might be realised (or not) across urban contexts with distinct histories and geographies.

Robyn Dowling is Professor of Planning and Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. Kurt Iveson is Associate Professor of Urban Geography in the School of Geosciences.

Kurt Iveson is primarily interested in the question of how social justice can be achieved in cities. Within this broad interest, his previous research has focused on two main areas. First, he has examined the significance of the urban public realm for citizenship and democracy. This has included looking at contests over different uses of urban public space, including the politics of protest, graffiti writing, cruising, hanging out, and outdoor advertising. Second, he has explored how urban planning might work better to achieve social justice in cities. In particular, he has considered the ways in which planners should conceptualise, and respond to, different forms of diversity in the city.

Kurt’s current research is focused on the governance of the outdoor media landscape (from graffiti to government notices, shop signage and outdoor advertising), and on the spatial politics of urban informatics systems (with a particular focus on their implications for privacy and urban citizenship).

Robyn Dowling is an urban studies researcher, with a focus on the social and cultural geographies of cities and contemporary urban governance. Her research has three strands. In terms of social and cultural geographies of cities, she has researched widely the ways in which identities are lived in suburban homes, neighbourhoods and lives. This includes long term research on the suburbs and homes of Sydney, and documented in international journal publications and her co-authored book Home(with Alison Blunt, published by Routledge).

Upcoming in the Series

Wednesday May 11th | 1 – 2.00pm
Xiao Jiang Yu (Geosciences) | The western development strategy and environment in southwest China: a case of Guizhou

Wednesday May 18th | 1 – 2.00pm
Prof. Bill Pritchard (Geosciences) | Should we aspire to a society that is food secure, or a society of food-sovereign consumers?

Wednesday May 25th | 1 – 2.00pm
Kirsten Jenkins (University of St Andrews) | What is energy justice? Lessons from the nuclear fuel cycle in Canada, the UK and Australia

Wednesday June 1st  | 1 – 2.00pm
Leonardo Valenzuela (Geosciences post-grad) | Moralscapes of the Anthropocene
Billy Haworth (Geosciences post-grad) | Assessing the potential, application, & implications of volunteered geographic information in disaster risk reduction

Wednesday June 8th | 1 – 2.00pm
Alistair Sisson (Geosciences post-grad) | Night-Time Economy stigmatisation: a case study of Northbridge, Western Australia

Wednesday June 15 | 1 – 2.00pm