Urban infrastructure is often ignored, considered to be boring and technical - but the choices we make regarding which infrastructures to build, maintain, and how we use them are profoundly political and cultural.
Pay-and-display parking ticket machines are an example of an intensely technological piece of infrastructure. This project explores how we can use these ubiquitous and expensive boxes to make cities more responsive to the needs of those who live in them, and proposes a service through which ticket machines become a communication channel between citizens and their local authorities. By taking functions that may otherwise be found on websites or interacted with through mobile devices, and physically embedding them directly in the urban fabric, City Tickets democratises access and input to municipal services and brings that dialogue to where it is most relevant and powerful: here and now.
Citizens are empowered to report problems - a pothole, a graffitied sign, or an awkward junction, for example - and to make suggestions for local improvements - benches for sitting on, or perhaps a weekly local market, or to have a say on local planning issues. The use of short forms printed from the embedded receipt printer, prepared with hyperlocal maps for indicating the exact location of a problem or suggestion and ready for annotation, make submission of this information to the local authority straightforward, where it can be processed and routed to the right department for an efficient response. On request, the local authority’s constantly updated to-do list of known issues, suggestions, and plans for the immediate locality is made available in the same way.
City Tickets makes the bureaucratic and opaque workings of governance more transparent and accountable, while redefining the balance of power supporting participatory urban planning and management processes. Updating current machines to also issue city tickets in addition to existing parking tickets allows this existing infrastructure, without the inclusion of any costly additional technology, to be reconsidered as a way to make neighbourhoods more liveable and cities more responsive to the needs and desires of their inhabitants.
[above: a city ticket report being filled in with a non-urgent local issue for submission to the local authority]
[above, left to right: a city-ticket todo list; a city ticket report form; the reverse, showing a hyperlocal map]
[above: the to-do lists can include pending issues including expected date by which they will be resolved, recently fixed issues, and local public announcements]
[above: the hyperlocal maps on the reverse, for easier marking of location, and where appropriate, annotating with details]
[above: each existing machine already includes a vast array of technology, to the tune of about $11000 each.]
This project was my final thesis project at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, completed in September 2010. My advisor was Gitte Jonsdatter.
It has been selected for the forthcoming exibition Talk To Me at MoMA, New York, and I am currently working on a version of the project specifically designed for the context of New York City for the show.
I discussed some of the inspiration and process for this project in the form of weeknotes on my blog as I was working on it. Photos of the project, including those used above, are available for use on flickr; shout if you need higher resolution versions.
I would love to hear any feedback, suggestions, questions, or comments you may have - please feel free to get in touch.