Call for Participation

Digital Cities #11: Communities and Technologies for More-than-Human Futures

A symposium at the Communities & Technologies Conference – C&T 2019
4 June 2019, Vienna, Austria

Expressions of interest open until 7 May 2019

Today, over half of the planet’s population lives in cities. Predictions suggest that the urban population will increase by a factor of 1.5 by 2045 [35]. The world has entered the century of the city [27]. Population growth and rapid urbanisation are putting pressure on existing city infrastructure and services. In response to this pressure, city governments are turning to smart city solutions, which promise to help cities to operate more efficiently and effectively. These smart city solutions have been criticised for their technology-centric approach, which leads to greater efficiency and effectiveness often at the cost of negatively impacting the experience of citizens [7,9,21,25]. Along with others, the symposium organisers argue for the involvement of citizens and other stakeholders in the design and rollout of smart cities to ensure that solutions are built around people and their needs [7,10,12,15,34]. As a result, cities and smart city technology companies and service providers are beginning to adopt human-centred design (HCD) and involve citizens and communities in collaborative city making. This trend is facilitated through well-documented and tested HCD methodologies that draw on a large body of research and knowledge from the fields of human-computer interaction (HCI) and interaction design. HCD methodologies offer methods, tools, and techniques for considering people and communities in the design process. The goal of HCD is to devise solutions that are desirable, technically feasible, and financially viable [1,6].

However, it is increasingly becoming clear that the quality of life in cities is not only linked to the wellbeing of citizens but also the health of the natural environment [4]. While technological advancement has allowed us to generally live healthier lives, it is increasingly also found to have negatively impacted our environment. The motorisation of cities has led to air pollution, posing one of the greatest health risks [14]. Modern urban planning initiatives driven by technological innovation in the late 19th century has given rise to the construction of motorways, reducing habitats for people and wildlife [20]. There is a risk that the application of HCD methodologies to smart city design will equally lead to anthropocentric solutions – that is, solutions that are built to maximise the wellbeing of people while failing to consider their impact on the natural environment.

The theme of Digital Cities 11 continues the debates and contributions to the workshop “Avoiding Ecocidal Smart Cities: Participatory Design for More-than-Human Futures” held at the 2018 Participatory Design Conference (PDC) in Hasselt and Genk, Belgium [17]. The topics of interest for the symposium include, but are not limited to the following:

  • HCI, interaction design, participatory design and use of smart cities, urban informatics and IoT technologies that explore human / non-human / more-than-human relations;
  • Methodological approaches, including opportunities and challenges for designing in more-than-human worlds;
  • Speculative designs, design fictions, and art projects;
  • Ethical and legal considerations, e.g. design responses to a new legal status of nature;
  • Designs that decentre the human or privilege other species;
  • Cultural aspects of sustainable smart cities in this space;
  • Theoretical perspectives from the literature e.g. Anthropocene, Capitalocene [26], Chthulucene [13], and;
  • “World-making”, what could a more-than-human city be?


In C&T’s tradition of transdisciplinary engagement, Digital Cities 11 continues the debate into more-than-human futures across disciplinary boundaries including STS [11,13], environmental humanities [18,22], geography [2,28], planning [19], design [5,6,33] HCI [16,31], and others. The main goal of Digital Cities #11 is to bring together scholars and non-academic practitioners to consider and debate new approaches for the design of post-anthropocentric cities that shift the focus in HCD methodologies to also consider non-human stakeholders and perspectives. It aims to develop new HCI theory by combining knowledge developed in the field of STS to highlight questions about responsibility, accountability, and ethics [32] with concerns emerging from other fields that consider ecological perspectives.


If you are interested in participating in Digital Cities 11, we ask you to send us an email with your expression of interest in the form of a short (200-500 word) abstract. This can take the form of a statement outlining your interests, questions, insights, or current research or practice. Expressions of interest are open until 7 May 2019. Please email Marcus Foth at m.foth [AT] EoIs will be reviewed by the symposium organisers for relevance. If participants exceed places, we will choose a balance of different perspectives on the symposium themes. After the symposium, we will finalise our proposal for an edited book on the subject.

Digital Cities

Digital Cities is a symposium series held in conjunction with the International Conference on Communities & Technologies. The Digital Cities series started in 1999 and is the longest running academic forum that has followed the intertwined development of cities and digital technologies. All Digital Cities events resulted in high-quality book publications.


Marcus Foth, QUT Design Lab, Australia
Sara Heitlinger, City University of London, UK
Martin Tomitsch, Design Lab, University of Sydney, Australia
Rachel Clarke, Northumbria University, UK


[1] Liam Bannon. 2011. Reimagining HCI: toward a more human-centered perspective. Interactions 18, 4: 50–57.
[2] Michelle Bastian, Owain Jones, Niamh Moore, and Emma Roe. 2016. Participatory Research in More-than-Human Worlds. Taylor & Francis.
[3] Ian Bogost. 2012. Alien Phenomenology, Or, What It’s Like to be a Thing. U of Minnesota Press.
[4] Anthony Capon. 2011. The view from the city. World Health Design 4, 3: 6–9. Retrieved from
[5] Carl DiSalvo and Jonathan Lukens. 2011. Nonanthropocentrism and the Nonhuman in Design: Possibilities for Designing New Forms of Engagement with and through Technology. In M. Foth, L. Forlano, C. Satchell, & M. Gibbs (Eds.), From social butterfly to engaged citizen: Urban informatics, social media, ubiquitous computing, and mobile technology to support citizen engagement (pp. 421–436). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
[6] Laura Forlano. 2016. Decentering the Human in the Design of Collaborative Cities. Design Issues 32, 3: 42–54.
[7] Marcus Foth. 2018. Participatory urban informatics: towards citizen-ability. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment 7, 1: 4–19.
[8] Marcus Foth and Glenda Amayo Caldwell. 2018. More-than-human media architecture.
[9] Marcus Foth, Andrew Hudson-Smith, and Dean Gifford. 2016. Smart Cities, Social Capital, and Citizens at Play: A Critique and A Way forward. In Research Handbook on Digital Transformations, F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu (eds.). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, 203–221.
[10] Marcus Foth, Martin Tomitsch, Christine Satchell, and M. Hank Haeusler. 2015. From Users to Citizens: Some Thoughts on Designing for Polity and Civics. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction, 623–633.
[11] Adrian Franklin. 2017. The more-than-human city. The Sociological review 65, 2: 202–217.
[12] Joel Fredericks, Glenda Amayo Caldwell, Marcus Foth, and Martin Tomitsch. 2019. The city as perpetual beta: Fostering systemic urban acupuncture. In Michiel de Lange and Martijn de Waal (eds.), The Hackable City: Digital Media and Collaborative City-Making in the Network Society (pp. 67–92). Singapore: Springer, Singapore.
[13] Donna J. Haraway. 2016. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
[14] Peter Head. 2011. Healthy cities in an ecological age. World Health Design 4, 3: 10–14. Retrieved from healthy-city-design-july-2011/
[15] Sara Heitlinger, Nick Bryan-Kinns, and Rob Comber. 2019. The Right to the Sustainable Smart City. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI).
[16] Sara Heitlinger and Rob Comber. 2018. Design for the Right to the Smart City in More-than-Human Worlds. arXiv [cs.HC]. Retrieved from
[17] Sara Heitlinger, Marcus Foth, Rachel Clarke, Carl DiSalvo, Ann Light, and Laura Forlano. 2018. Avoiding ecocidal smart cities: participatory design for more-than-human futures. In Proceedings of the 15th Participatory Design Conference: Short Papers, Situated Actions, Workshops and Tutorial – Volume 2, 51.
[18] Steve Hinchliffe, Matthew B. Kearnes, Monica Degen, and Sarah Whatmore. 2005. Urban Wild Things: A Cosmopolitical Experiment. Environment and planning. D, Society & space 23, 5: 643–658.
[19] Donna Houston, Jean Hillier, Diana MacCallum, Wendy Steele, and Jason Byrne. 2018. Make kin, not cities! Multispecies entanglements and “becoming-world” in planning theory. Planning Theory 17, 2: 190–212.
[20] Mark Johnson. 2011. Life-changing regeneration. World Health Design 4, 3: 15–19. Retrieved from healthy-city-design-july-2011/
[21] Rob Kitchin. 2016. The ethics of smart cities and urban science. Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 374, 2083.
[22] Eduardo Kohn. 2013. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Univ of California Press.
[23] Ann Light, Chris Frauenberger, Jennifer Preece, Paul Strohmeier, and Maria Angela Ferrario. 2017. Special Topic: Taking Action in a Changing World. Interactions 25, 1: 34–45.
[24] Ann Light, Alison Powell, and Irina Shklovski. 2017. Design for Existential Crisis in the Anthropocene Age. In Proceedings of C&T, 270–279.
[25] Shannon Mattern. 2017. A City Is Not a Computer. Places Journal, 2017.
[26] Jason W. Moore. 2017. The Capitalocene, Part I: on the nature and origins of our ecological crisis. The Journal of peasant studies 44, 3: 594–630.
[27] Neal R. Peirce, Curtis W. Johnson, and Farley Peters. 2008. Century of the City: No Time to Lose. Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY.
[28] Chris Philol. 1995. Animals, Geography, and the City: Notes on Inclusions and Exclusions. Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 13, 6: 655–681.
[29] Hannah Pitt. 2015. On showing and being shown plants – a guide to methods for more-than-human geography. Area 47, 1: 48–55.
[30] William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Mauro Galetti, Mohammed Alamgir, Eileen Crist, Mahmoud I. Mahmoud, and William F. Laurance. 2017. World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. Bioscience 67, 12: 1026–1028.
[31] Nancy Smith, Shaowen Bardzell, and Jeffrey Bardzell. 2017. Designing for Cohabitation: Naturecultures, Hybrids, and Decentering the Human in Design. In Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (pp. 1714–1725). ACM.
[32] Jesse S. Tatum. 2004. The Challenge of Responsible Design. Design Issues 20, 3: 66–80.
[33] Alex S. Taylor. 2017. What Lines, Rats, and Sheep Can Tell Us. Design Issues 33, 3: 25–36.
[34] Martin Tomitsch. 2018. Making Cities Smarter: Designing Interactive Urban Applications. Jovis.
[35] World Bank. 2019. Urban Development. World Bank. Retrieved February 3, 2019 from