Juha Van ‘t Zelfde spoke at the Urban Screens conference in Amsterdam (December 4, 2009) in behalf of VURB, a foundation located in Amsterdam which focuses on policy and design research concerning urban computational systems. His presentation focused on what might be called ‘urban informatics’. VURB endorses the development of ‘urban informatics’ as a potential discipline concerned with the issue of management of all the data related to urban environments generated by inhabitants and visitors of a city, now mobile technology users. This content generated by means of ubiquitous computing, sensor technologies and mobile media transforms the urban environment by adding another virtual layer to the urban space. The foundation is involved in investigating precisely how these networked digital resources are changing the way we understand, build and inhabit cities and attempts to find creative ways to manage and use all the user generated data related to urban sites and include it in the process of shaping future cities.
In investigating the role of all the user generated data adding another dimension to the city space in shaping the city of the future, VURB is attempting to create an interactive platform to accommodate, administer and make available and searchable all this data. Juha Van ‘t Zelfde mentioned something like an app store, a platform on top of which people can build other applications.
VURB does not only attempt to provide a framework for policy and design research but it envisions itself also as a connector linking municipalities and other actors interested in the theme of the city as interface. The foundation is also involved in promoting the theme by means of public events. One of these events will take place in 2010 and will be a one day marathon on the theme of the ‘cloud city’.