Virtual Environments as Enablers of Civic Awareness and Engagement

Virtual Environments as Enablers of Civic Awareness and Engagement

Paolo Bellavista (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy), Antonio Corradi (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy), Luca Foschini (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy), Eliza Helena Gomes (UFSC, Florianópolis, Brazil), Elena Lamberti (University of Bologna, Italy), Gisiela Klein (UDESC, Florianópolis, Brazil), Carlos Roberto De Rolt (UDESC, Florianópolis, Brazil) and Marco Torello (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJUPSC.2020010102

Abstract

The wide availability of accurate sensors currently hosted by smartphones are enabling new participative urban management opportunities. Mobile crowdsensing (MCS) allows people to actively participate in any aspect of urban planning, by collecting and sharing data, reporting issues to public administrations, proposing solutions to urban planners, and delivering information of potential social interest to their community. Although collected data can be very helpful to enhance the quality of life of citizens, mobile users are still reluctant to use their devices to take advantages of the opportunities offered by the digitized society, mainly due to privacy issues. From August to December 2018, the city of Florianópolis, capital of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, was used as a living lab environment for an MCS application called ParticipACT Brazil, a socio/technical-aware crowdsensing platform. While the current literature focuses on MCS from a purely technical point of view, this research demonstrated that a multidisciplinary approach that includes both human sciences and ICT is needed in order to better identify critical issues, highlights the untapped potential of MCS paradigm, and suggests research methodologies that could provide benefits for all the actors involved (researchers, public administrators, and citizens).
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Civic Engagement Through Mcs Technologies

According to Gartner (2016), there are more than 1.4 billion smartphones sold worldwide by 2015, while Statista (2018) estimates the number of smartphone users will reach 2.87 billion by 2020. In a worldwide scenario, where the spread of mobile devices is now pervasive, advances in wireless communications, intelligent sensor-rich devices and social computing applications are offering new opportunities for detection and management that are promoting new forms of involvement and participation virtual, especially in densely populated areas. Some empirical investigations have sought to identify which factors influence the civic engagement: structural aspects of the State and society (such as socioeconomic development, political and social institutions and individual attributes), linked to material resources and personal motivations have been combined in different ways by researches of different disciplinary area to understand the constraints of social commitment within the digital context (Borba & Ribeiro, 2010; Norris, 2002).

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