The Internet of Places at Community-Scale: Design Scenarios for Hyperlocal Neighborhood

The Internet of Places at Community-Scale: Design Scenarios for Hyperlocal Neighborhood

John M. Carroll (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Patrick C. Shih (Indiana University Bloomington, USA), Jess Kropczynski (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Guoray Cai (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Mary Beth Rosson (The Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Kyungsik Han (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0827-4.ch001
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

The Internet of Things integrates entities of the physical world by making them addressable through the Internet, and making the Internet accessible through physical objects. We draw on our own previous design research in community informatics to explore a critical elaboration of the Internet of Things: The Internet of Places (IoP). IoP seeks to support awareness, engagement, and interaction pertaining to individual and collective human experiences, meaning making, activity, intentions, and values by computationally leveraging and integrating a wide range of human data with places to which those data refer. We describe design scenarios, prototypes, and user research at the scale of local community. We identify a critical alternative for humankind of hyperlocal community, enabling greater citizen awareness, engagement, participation, and power. We suggest that the Internet of Places at community-scale is the next generation infrastructure for community networks in the 40-year tradition of the Berkeley Community Memory.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

In the 1960s, the futurist Marshall McLuhan (1962) envisioned a “global village”. A version of this future is here. The Internet brings all people closer to one another. Much contemporary innovation is directed to unprecedented cloud resources and services, and the Internet mediated, massive-scale educational, recreational, social, and professional interactions they afford. We are just beginning to fathom this trajectory toward a global village of humankind.

In this paper we explore the thesis that the global village requires local communities to provide social foundation for more complex and distributed societal institutions and capacities (Carroll, Shih, & Kropczynski, 2015; Perera, Zaslavsky, Christen & Georgakopoulos, 2014). In particular, we draw on the thread of research inaugurated by the Berkeley Community Memory (BCM) (Rossman, 1975). In the 1970s, before there ever was an Internet, activists in Berkeley created a mainframe system, implemented through a 110-baud link to teletype terminals. BCM included discussion forums directed at local and national issues, and online postings of community information about car pools, apartment vacancies, chess games, restaurant reviews, and musical instruments to buy or sell. People posted their poetry and essays. One of the terminals was located beneath the bulletin board in a local record store; users started calling it an “electronic bulletin board”. Activists created an online memorial to Alameda County’s Vietnam War casualties.

Rossman’s (1975) paper on BCM reported action research on universal accessibility, social leveling, and strong democracy principles that seem current 40 years onward, and that guided a long series of community network projects (Carroll, 2012; Schuler, 1996), and firmly established the design principle that the purpose of community networks is to inform and engage the community, and to enable community action. We take this work as a model inspiration for how enabling local community can facilitate the development of national and global community, as a seed crystal can enable the development of a robust, larger-scale crystal lattice.

In this paper, we describe design research on community services and information infrastructures inspired by BCM, but leveraging contemporary technological possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT), that is, the integration of entities of the physical world by making them addressable through the Internet, and making the Internet accessible through physical objects. In our project, places in the local community are indices into a networking infrastructure for individual and community information and interaction.

It is quite useful to associate physical data with locations at which these data are obtained (Goodchild Guo, Annoni et al., 2012; Schafer, Ganoe, Xiao, Coch & Carroll, 2005). Our interests, however, transcend spatially indexing physical data; we are most concerned with the challenge of enhancing awareness, engagement, and interaction pertaining to individual and collective human experiences, meaning making, activity, intentions, and values by computationally leveraging and integrating a wide range of human data with places to which those data refer. We refer to this specialization of IoT as the Internet of Places.

Emphasizing the meanings of local places to the people that inhabit them can strengthen local community identity. The history, heritage, and special purposes of community places can be invisible even to the people who pass by them every day. Allowing community places to serve as indices into digital interactions and information makes them more visible, but also provides new ways to become aware and participate in the community. It makes community information and interaction hyperlocal (Farhi, 1991): Created by local people, about local places and events, and directed to local people to be accessed locally. This powerfully updates the electronic bulletin boards of BCM: In the Internet of Places (IoP), we do not merely refer to and discuss local places and place-based events, we interact with them directly, their geo-spatial coordinates are part of the underlying computation. In this sense, we argue, places can speak for themselves, host community history and heritage, facilitate community activities, mediate citizen interaction, and guide local political discussion and decision-making.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset