An RMIT PhD candidate has recently spent time exploring Barcelona’s three-year plan for a digital city after being awarded an overseas travel grant by the University to conduct research in Spain.
RMIT's School of Media and Communication PhD candidate Sheba Mohammid is using the insights gained during her trip to inform her research on how people use digital media across knowledge creation, sharing and use.
Ultimately, the researcher within the University's Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) hopes her work can contribute to ICT policymaking as well as improve learning on the use of digital media across different communities and cities.
The Barcelona Digital City 2017-2020 plan is described as 'the city's roadmap to drive technological sovereignty for citizens'.
It’s based around the transformation and digital innovation of the public sector and the involvement of companies, administrations, academic, organisations, communities and people, with a public and citizen-based leadership.
Mohammid said she was intrigued by the concept.
“I wanted to better understand how technology was envsioned by the city council to improve the lives of its citizens," she said.
“So I liasied with key stakeholders within the digital city plan, such as staff from ‘mSchools’ who work with the Catalonia Department of Education.
“I was able to ask questions about key success factors and what it was really like to roll out some of the digital city initiatives in practice.”
The ability to be able to talk face-to-face with "the people on the ground” has had a significant impact on the research, according to Mohammid.
“It has been incredibly useful to be able to go into detail on some of the challenges of working within a program such as the digital city plan and then examine how these hurdles have been overcome.”
The researcher's visit coincided with the lead-up to the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, which is being held this year in Barcelona.
“I’ve met with the Smart Cities Expo team and delved into another angle to the digital city concept, taking the time to explore its philosophy as well as governance.”
Mohammid’s visit was supported by RMIT Europe, who is also helping to set the agenda on what it means to be a resilient, smart, responsive and ethical city.
RMIT Europe recently held Barcelona’s first Ethical Cities: Urban Innovation Forum.
Mohammid expressed her gratitude to Barcelona City Council, Anteverti, RMIT's EU Centre, RMIT Europe, DERC and her supervisors including RMIT's Professor Heather Horst.
Story: Adriana Bizzarri