City Data Futures Prototype

The City Data Futures Prototype, which is ETLab’s second project with the City of Melbourne, builds on Experiences and Perspectives of Urban Sensing in Melbourne, undertaken in 2020., the Emerging Technologies Research Lab is conducting a second research project with the City of Melbourne

“This partnership employs a transparent approach to data collection, which is why it was so important for us to include the local community and invite them to take part in our live experiment.”

Professor Sarah Pink

City Data Futures Prototype builds on the research findings in our 2020 report: Experiences and Perspectives of Urban Sensing in Melbourne. City Data Futures Prototype trials a new approach to transparently and ethically communicating how data from City of Melbourne’s Argyle Square is captured and used by the City.

The research project engages design ethnographic research and intervention methods across 20+ participants, to generate in depth understandings of how people engage with data and to subsequently create a universal and transferable prototype that better communicates and engages with publics regarding how data is captured and used by the City of Melbourne.

The project uses ethnography to better understand how people/the public: engages with (or does not engage with) data; experiences, understands and perceives data being collected; imagines future possibilities of the city through data; and experiences possible futures through ethnographic interventions and the prototype.

The prototype will:

  • be accessible to a wide range of users, inclusive of age, ability, language spoken, location, education held, income etc
  • demonstrate what existing data is being captured by City of Melbourne
  • demonstrate how the data is being used by the City of Melbourne
  • make the data available to the public and offer them possibilities to engage with the data
  • have a physical and digital activation within the City of Melbourne
  • create a two-way conversation about data
  • use the research findings from the Experiences and Perspectives of Urban Sensing in Melbourne report to inform the design ethnography process towards defining the prototype


Sarah Pink, Bianca Vallentine, Debora Lanzeni, Ilya Fridman, Melisa Duque, Shanti Sumartojo, Robert Lundgren

Contact: Sarah Pink