Augmented Democracy in Smart Cities

  • Date:
  • Time: 3.00-4.00pm
  • Location: Room 12.38, Social Sciences Building

Evangelos Pournaras, from the School of Computing, will draw from his research on augmented democracy, to discuss the impact and value of this approach to understand citizen engagement.

Smart Cities evolve into complex and pervasive urban environments with a citizens’ mandate to meet sustainable development goals. Repositioning democratic values of citizens’ choices in these complex ecosystems has turned out to be imperative in an era of social media filter bubbles, fake news and opportunities for manipulating electoral results with such means. This talk introduces a new paradigm of augmented democracy that promises citizens who actively engage in a more informed decision-making integrated to public urban space. The proposed concept is inspired by a digital revive of the Ancient Agora of Athens, an arena of public discourse, a Polis where citizens assemble to actively deliberate and collectively decide about public matters. At the core of the proposed paradigm lies the concept of proving witness presence that makes decision-making subject of providing secure evidence and testifying for choices made in the physical space. I will briefly show   how proofs of witness presence can be made using blockchain consensus. I will also show how complex crowd-sensing decision-making processes can be designed with the Smart Agora platform and how real-time collective measurements can be performed in a fully decentralized and privacy-preserving way. An experimental testnet scenario on sustainable use of transport means is illustrated along with a use case on crowd-sensing cycling safety that validates evidence by the wisdom of the crowd using official data from public authorities. The paramount role of dynamic consensus, self-governance and ethically aligned artificial intelligence in the augmented democracy paradigm is outlined.