Smart Places events

May 2020

‘Smart Places’ is an initiative developed in partnership between the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), the Data-Driven Innovation programme (DDI) and Edinburgh Living Lab. ‘Smart Places’ is a broad theme that generally aligns to the concept of placemaking and emphasises active citizen engagement and participation alongside new uses of data and technology to improve places for people. During May and June 2020 we will be delivering a series of online events on this topic, contributed to by a diverse range of experts in this field.

In May 2020 we will launched an online illustrated blog article series via Medium on the theme of Smart Places. Each week thereafter during May and June, we are releasing a new article authored by one of a diverse range of key thought leaders in this field. Each author will be sharing their insight and expertise to highlight a key Smart Places challenge, and set out their future vision for how we can use a Smart Places approach - combining active citizen engagement and participation with data and technology - to improve places and the built environment post-Covid 19. Each article will feature a bespoke illustration communicating this future vision, created by a different talented Illustrator to create a carefully curated series.

All articles will be available on our Medium account as they are released each week. Interested in discussing your reactions or thoughts on a particular article's topic? Or to meet others interested or working in a similar field? Join us on Twitter by looking for #SmartPlaces for a series of weekly one-hour Tweet Up discussions - each hosted by a different blog author. The author will share 6 questions over the course of the hour based on the topic of their article (one question every 10mins), each tagged with #SmartPlaces. Follow along or join in the discussion using #SmartPlaces! 

The Smart Places series will culminate in all 7 blog authors coming together for a one hour online panel discussion (3-4pm 26 June) and public Q&A on the Smart Places theme - sign up via Eventbrite here.

Online Events

3-4pm Fri 29 May - Euan Mills.
One-hour Tweet Up discussion on Twitter (using #SmartPlaces) on article 'Design with Data: the need for data-driven and evidence-based approaches in the built environment industry'.

3-4pm Fri 5 June - Daisy Narayanan.
One hour Tweet Up  on her article 'Shaping a resilient future for Edinburgh' released 29 May. Miss out? Search for #SmartPlaces.

3-4pm Fri 12 June - Sarah Frood.
Tweet Up (using #SmartPlaces) on the topic of her article 'Digital and Face-to-Face' about digital tools for meaningful place-based discussions (released via Medium 5 June).

3-4pm Fri 19 June - Dr Jo Morrison
One hour Tweet Up (using #SmartPlaces) on her article 'Digital Placemaking for More Inclusive and Accessible Cities' - released 12 June - discussing how combining people, place, tech and data can lead to more welcoming public spaces for all.

3-4pm Thurs 25 June - Sally Kerr. One hour Tweet Up (using #SmartPlaces) on her article 'Why Local Data is the Key to Successful Placemaking', released via Medium 19 June.

Panel Discussion - 3-4pm Fri 26 June.
One hour online discussion including public Q&A. Sign up via Eventbrite for your free ticket.

Guest Blog Authors

Ewan Klein

Euan Mills

Co-founder of the Digital Planning Directorate at Connected Places Catapult. Previously 16 years experience in the built environment industry, including advising the Mayor of London.
Cat Magill

Daisy Narayanan

Director of Urbanism for Sustrans. Interweaving policy, public realm design and key place principles to create liveable towns and cities.

Sarah Frood

One of the founding directors at Icecream Architecture. Delivering place-based (cultural economy, digital place-making, public art) projects for the past 10 years.
Ewan Klein

Sally Kerr

Independent consultant with expertise in digital and data innovation including Open Data, Smart City and IoT with a focus on the public sector. Founder of EdinburghApps. Cofounder of Edinburgh Living Lab.
Cat Magill

Niamh Webster

Digital Engagement Manager at the Scottish Government. Advises policymakers on using engagement methods to make sure people are meaningfully involved. Currently exploring how traditional offline ways of involving the public can be done online.

Kate Carter

Senior Lecturer Architecture Technology and Environment at ESALA, University of Edinburgh. Researcher in housing, architecture and sustainability. Worked on the ‘Present Voices Future Lives’ exhibition commissioned by the Scottish Government.


Ewan Klein

James Albon

James is a British author and illustrator. His clients include the Folio Society, The Guardian, Libération, the Wall Street Journal, Penguin Random House and WIRED. He studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, and went on to a postgraduate scholarship at the Royal Drawing School in London.
Cat Magill

Katie Quinn

Katie is an illustrator and comic book artist who works from her studio in Edinburgh. Her work is predominately digital; and has been used in editorials, publications, murals and exhibitions, with a recent focus on data comics.

Laura Sayers

Laura is a freelance illustrator based in Glasgow. Her intricate pieces are all made meticulously from different layers of paper, cut with scissors and finished with finely painted details. These are then photographed and edited for reproduction, providing a final print that has depth, texture and a novelty charm.
Ewan Klein

Victoria Rose Ball

Victoria is a freelance illustrator based in Edinburgh. Her work is predominantly digital and focuses on architectural illustrations, often with her own take on perspective and playful colour schemes.
Cat Magill

Jack Daly

Working from his studio in Glasgow, Jack is a Scottish freelance illustrator focussing primarily on advertising, editorial, and product illustration. Previous clients include Adele, BMW, and the New York Times.

Katie Chappell

Katie is best known for her fresh wobbly illustration and giant live window paintings. Global clients include Facebook, Google, as well as some of the UK's leading universities. An alumna of Edinburgh College of Art, she runs The Good Ship Illustration - with her pals Helen Stephens and Tania Willis.

Next Steps

The aim of these events is to open up new conversations and connections between university researchers, industry practitioners and local people, to share knowledge and create a network of people working to improve local places using either community engagement and/or data/tech approaches. We also hope they will start to identify what some key built environment challenges of mutual interest might be for people across Edinburgh. This will feed into EFI’s work longer term, with discussions, connections and thinking all acting as a pre-cursor to a series of in-person physical events and Smart Places exhibition and conference to take place later in the year.

As we consider the way forward into a changed and changing world, EFI seeks to put research, education and engagement in the service of the wider community and to support recovery and regeneration. The Smart Places initiative will contribute to conversations and activities in core sectors linked to the Data-Driven Innovation and City Region Deal contribution including creative industries; tourism and festivals; financial services/fintech; public services/data civics; future infrastructure; and ethics of data and AI​.

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