PhD defense: Urban computing serves human information needs and encourages the interaction
MediaTeam Researcher Hannu Kukka will defence his PhD thesis in public on August 24th, 2012, at 12 noon in lecture room OP-sali, University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus. His thesis has been supervised by Professor Timo Ojala. The opponent is Professor Anind Dey from Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
Kukka´s dissertation identifies emerging practices in how people seek information while moving in “smart” urban spaces, i.e. spaces augmented with various computational resources. The backdrop for a majority of the work presented in the thesis is the City of Oulu in Finland, where a variety of new ubiquitous computing infrastructure and services have installed since 2009, including a network of large interactive public displays called UBI-hotspots.
The hotspots serve as a versatile platform on top of which new types of services can be developed, deployed and tested in an authentic urban setting over a sufficiently long timespan by heterogeneous, non-coached users with different technological competencies. Both time and involvement of the community are necessities in truly evaluating the impact of such services on the everyday life and practices of the city and its citizens.
The case studies presented in the thesis aim at understanding the underlying information seeking strategies people employ while foraging the augmented environment for information, and the types of information people see as valuable while attending their daily business in the downtown area of the City. The theoretical framework for the studies is derived from both ubiquitous and urban computing, and from the field of human information behaviour research.
The results of the PhD study indicate that people have adapted the new infrastructure and services as parts of their daily information seeking tasks. Another main finding is that there is a substantial difference in the types of information people assume to need and use, and their actual observed behaviour.
A social culture is also emerging around the new technology, and future research is expected to highlight the challenges and possibilities provided by this social component to the design and implementation of future urban computing applications and services.
Research work for the thesis was carried out within the Urban Interactions Research Program and its sub-projects UbiLife, RealUbi, UbiCity, and UBI Metrics.
The full version of the thesis