The Future-Making Assessment Approach as a Tool for E-Planning and Community Development: The Case of Ubiquitous Helsinki

The Future-Making Assessment Approach as a Tool for E-Planning and Community Development: The Case of Ubiquitous Helsinki

Liisa Horelli (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland) and Sirkku Wallin (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch004

Abstract

As e-planning takes place in a complex and dynamic context, consisting of many stakeholders with a diversity of interests, it benefits from an evaluation approach that assists in the monitoring, supporting and provision of feedback. For this purpose, we have created a new approach to e-planning, called the Future-making assessment. It comprises a framework and a set of tools for the contextual analysis, mobilisation and nurturing of partnerships for collective action, in addition to an on-going monitoring and evaluation system. The aim of this chapter is to present and discuss the methodology of the Future-making assessment-approach (FMA) and its application in a case study on e-planning of services in the context of community development, in a Helsinki neighbourhood.
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Introduction

The emergence of network, information and knowledge societies in the last decades of the twentieth century has created great expectations for the revitalisation of cities and its neighbourhoods due to the availability of information and communication technology (ICT). However, the history of the early shaping of urban internet space discloses that the hope and hype of ICT have not been fulfilled (Kasvio & Anttiroiko, 2005). The assumed digital cities in Europe in the 1990s were nothing more than electronic brochures, except for a few holistic digital experiments (Aurigi, 2005).

Nevertheless, from the beginning of the 21st century a digital citizenship has started to emerge. According to Karen Mossberg (2008, pp.1-2), “digital citizenship is the ability to participate in society online... It represents the capacity, belonging and potential for political and economic engagement in society in the information age”. Also the application of urban and community informatics 1 and the appropriation of ubiquitous computing have begun to turn some places into real-time cities in which amateurs become urban planners (Foth, 2009). Ubiquitous computing means in its idealised form that ICT is present anywhere and anytime serving people through embedded electronic devices, programmes and sensory networks. It is envisioned that environments become intelligent and cities function online and in real time. The future ubiquitous society also promises to enhance the management of global issues on the local level and vice versa. On the other hand, Mika Mannermaa (2008) alerts that all people, as private citizens, public authority or as entrepreneurs, will continuously monitor and will be monitored. “Some brother” will always oversee, know and will not forget.

Even though a great variety of web-based examples of e-planning currently exists, it is the socio-cultural and political context that conditions and shapes the appropriation of ICT and its eventual benefits. For example, Denmark which scored number one in the United Nations E-Government Readiness Survey (2008), has had a long tradition of participation in most sectors of society. In contrast, Finland, which is technologically well advanced, but culturally lagging in participatory efforts, was placed number 45 in the section of the same survey that tapped citizen participation in the co-production of services. Nevertheless, some Finnish communities tend to be islands of internet-assisted cultures. For example, the web-site of Helsinki scored third out of 100 cities in the worldwide Digital Governance in Municipalities Survey, by Holzer & Seang-Tae (2008). Seoul is the leading city in the application and appropriation of digital technology. Also the USA has many technology-led experiments, especially with wireless community networks. However, they tend to enhance the so called networked individualism (Foth et al., 2008) instead of collective action, due to the weakness of American public sector in local communities.

Recent developments around the social media or web 2.0 have provided new opportunities for participatory e-planning and the development of local communities. Characteristic of the e-planning experiments is that they take place in a complex context comprising many actors with different interests. The goals and foci of action vary in terms of level, scope, depth and temporal regime. Conflicts often arise between aspirations towards networked individualism and collective action. Also the imbalance between technological determinism versus the social shaping of technology may hinder the progress of the endeavour. In addition, the fuzziness of digital terminology, which is still under construction (Medaglia, 2007), may increase difficulties, such as the confusion between e-planning, e-participation and e-governance.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Future-Making Assessment Approach (FMA): A special form of evaluation that is integrated with e-planning. It comprises a framework and a set of tools for the contextual analysis and mobilisation of partnerships for collective action, in addition to an on-going monitoring and evaluation system.

Everyday Life: The self-evident subjective experience of everyday, in contrast to the structures or systems made of institutions, financial flows etc. Scientifically everyday life can be approached as a process in which people shape in their homes, at work or in the living environment the structural conditions into lived life. The mastering of everyday life means then the coordination of those multi-dimensional processes with which people shape the conditions.

Participatory E-Planning And Community Development: A socio-cultural, ethical, and political practice in which women and men, young and older people take part online and offline in the overlapping phases of the planning and decision-making cycle. It can take place via the internet or other digital and non-digital means.

Learning-Based Network Approach to Participatory Planning and Community Development (Lena): Comprises a method and a set of tools to analyse, plan, implement and monitor development processes in an iterative way. As an action research strategy, Lena provides possibilities to develop social, spatial and temporal structures that provide the basis for accessible services in (real) living lab sites.

Script: A scenario that defines how a technology, a plan, an innovation or a service should be deployed and organized, as well as what roles should be taken and by whom. The script defines the socio-material network, but the actors perform and co-produce the technology and its organisation.

Ubiquitous Computing: In its idealised form that ICT is present anywhere and any time serving people through embedded electronic devices, programmes and sensory networks. Thus, the environments may turn intelligent and cities function online and in real time.

PPP-Partnership: The organisational model for co-producing, co- planning and co-development of initiatives or services. The private or commercial services that are provided by enterprises, serve business purposes. The public services, which serve the common good, are provided, for example by cities and districts. The community services, which are created and provided by individual users, either by themselves or by the community of actors, serve the common good of certain groups of interests.

Local Partnership And Service Platform: The stakeholders’ technical and social co-construction of web and mobile devices and services in a way that transforms the neighbourhood web-site into an environment enabling local interest groups and individuals to share their knowledge about events, services or local news.

Chronotope: The unification of space and time. Chronotopic analysis enables to reflect upon the ontological nature of different systems or strategic landscapes so that the sense-making and consequent decision-making concerning interventions can become more appropriate.

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