Social Science

Sustainable and Resilient Cities: Challenges and Opportunities

How to Develop Culturally Sensitive ICT Solutions to Improve Quality of Life
Junia Anacleto, Federal University of Sao Carlos

Cities are shaped by the people who live in them. Cultural values expressed in behaviour, beliefs, music styles, food preferences, and so forth, form the common sense of a community’s profile that also play a main role on shaping their city. Common sense is a type of cultural knowledge shared in and by the community, in an ever-‐changing life experience process. It is not always a formal knowledge, rather, it is usually tacit, implicit, and not judged, but still defines a community's profile at a particular time and space [1]. Any intervention in a community should start from knowing their culture so that, understanding their cultural common ground, better fitted solutions would be planned, and better strategies to leverage adoption can be defined, leading to a smooth, desirable and sustainable change.

An example of technological intervention is the Yir Yoront aboriginal community in Australia. Until early 1920’s, the stone axe was a very important symbol for them and used for many activities, from building houses to defining marriage, from defining trades to obtaining food. Only men could build and have it. Women and children could borrow it. For the Yir Yoront everything done by an individual was related to the stone axe relationship code, the stone axe was a link to the past, to the present and to the future. However, Europeans missionaries introduced the iron axe to the community, for which adoption led their culture to disappear [2]. What should be done differently? Should that community be left by their own fate and continue to be apart from the technological progress?

One example of our days is the debate in the Deaf community about the cochlear implant. From a technical point of view, medical implants are far-‐developed and are in the market. From a human factors’ point of view, there is a considerable lack of acceptance-‐related knowledge and understanding of perceived benefits and barriers across a diverse population [3]. Why is that difficult? Should that be different?

Independently of what technology we are considering, we can’t assume that our technological approaches are good for everybody, everywhere at any time. We should be aware on how to proceed to establish our policies on designing supportive technology to enable communities’ search for a sustainable model for them to evolve, considering cultural differences, respecting them and their pace.

As ICT permeates citizens' interactions in modern cities, designing technological solutions supporting people expressing their local and current culture from a cultural perspective emerges as a significant challenge. Meeting this challenge will allow communities to better understand each other, perceive similarities and accept differences, capable of learning with each other, leading to flexible, comprehensible and tolerant communities with strong links. Hence, providing cultural sensitivity within ICT approaches to support citizens' interaction is a key challenge for planning a sustainable model for cities to continuously evolve.

In my talk I am going to present some research about cultural expressions and third placeness envisioning how ICT can support citizens' quality of life to promote sustainable cities.

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Social Science

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