OUISHARE FEST 16: SPEAKERS’ CORNER- Mara Balestrini

“It’s not about Utopia”

In this video, Mara Balestrini, a Cultural Technologist specialized in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), discusses how ‘smart cities’ can reach their full potential through bottom-up citizen engagement. Mara highlights the importance of ubiquitous technologies, ad-hoc networks and open data to empower citizens to shape their environment in ‘smart’ ways through platforms like Fixmystreet.

We need to start understanding how cities can become more resilient and more open and contribute to the commons by understanding the power ad-hoc networks

Drawing on classical european values, she reminds politicians of the importance to preserve solidarity, community and individuality within the urban space. She urges them to create new forms of civic participation alongside the smart cities  “new holy trinity” that consists of “comfort, security and sustainability”. City spaces should offer a more inclusive information system that can be governed by citizens and which does not limit being ‘smart’ to “the one who owns the newest iphone”, but is accessible to all.

Mara is also a PhD candidate at the Intel Collaborative Research Institute on Sustainable Connected Cities (ICRI-Cities) at University College London (UCL) and Director of Research at the think tank and consultancy firm Ideas for Change

An enthusiastic attendee of the OuiShareFest in past years, Mara is looking forward to attending as a speaker for OSFest16. Smart citizens, don’t miss the opportunity to join!

Use the hashtag #OSFest16 to connect your thoughts and comments.


From now until the OuiShare Fest, we will be publishing a video post of our speakers to raise discussions that we look forward to continuing at the Fest.