The infrastructures of everyday life

Dan Hill: Thank you.

John just said he felt like a zombie before.

He said he literally was a zombie, which made me very worried with the literally word there.

But anyway.

Okay now for something completely different, I suspect, I dunno, it's quite hard to follow a bunch of prizes given out.

I've got literally no Lego on me whatsoever.

Not even one brick.

Before I go any further, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we are here on, which would usually would be for me, the Warunjari people, the Kulin nation in Melbourne, but I'm on the Gadigal clan land of the Eora Nation and pay my respects, to elders past, present, and emerging.

Yeah I was here in 2009 for Web Directions then, which was a kind of a pivot for me.

And so I'm gonna talk a little bit about looking back at that and then where I've gone next and the kind of design work that I do.

And, it doesn't, and a lot of technology work that I do, but I think maybe it'll reframe a little bit the way that we're thinking about design and tech.

Well, let's see.

What I've ended up doing is working on stuff like this.

Originally, as you'll see in a moment, I was an interaction designer, a service designer.

In fact, I'm so old, it was just called a website designer, in those days, 1995, that was when I started making websites.

But I've since gone on to work on these kind of projects all over the world for my sins.

Barangaroo in the top right, which I can say is a dreadful project, but many stories I could tell about that were if I had a lawyer standing next to me Google's, campus in California on the top left, and probably also would require a lawyer to really explain.

But anyway, it is, that was an interesting one.

Chunks of Amsterdam and Sheffield.

But the one in the bottom right, just to keep my hand in with interaction design was a cell phone called by a Swiss company called Punkt.

P U N K T and it's just a cell phone, not a smartphone.

And so it's actually got Android inside it, but we shoved Android so far down into the ground and always pulled out of the stack.

There was making a call and getting texts and some very basic contact information.

So deliberately it was the idea that it wasn't smart.

There was no data shifting across it.

You could use 5G actually, so you could tether your iPad to it or whatever, but actually it was deliberately about disconnecting and reconnecting with the environment around you in some way and is, really confronting to use.

I can tell the, if you used to smartphone all your life, which I suspect most of the people, if not all of the people in the room have you can't take a picture.

There's no camera.

It's, a keypad.

There's no touchscreen.

The keypad's interesting 'cause it means you can, if you're old enough, like I am, it uses T nine text entry if you remember that.

And so you can actually send texts in your pocket without even looking at the screen if you remember how to do 'hello' and things like that.

So it's intriguing, but when you use it, you realize again, it's got no maps on it.

I thought long and hard how you might get maps on it.

I could talk about that another time as well.

But it's very it destabilizes the way you think about the world in a very subtle way actually, when you've got used to the being constantly connected and having maps in your pocket and having the Web in your pocket and so on.

And I realized when I was using it, I did after about two hours of complete confusion start looking at my environment more, talking to my kids, looking them in the eye, not trying to take a picture of 'em, upload it to their Instagram, reading a physical book, using my old camera, things like that.

It was interesting.

So the kind of design I'm doing is therefore asking the question, what we were driven by there was what's the essential 'phone-ness' of a phone?

What, is it that makes it a phone as opposed to a computer, given that the iPhones and Androids usually are computers actually.

So anyway that's not a plug for that phone, by the way.

And what's driving that then is this deeper understanding of the way we work with tech.

And I use this quote from the British architect, Cedric Price, who is big in the fifties, sixties and seventies, and made only about three buildings in his life and drank himself to death in a way that is not to be applauded, but...

he was a very, very interesting thinker and massively influential without making buildings.

And one of the interesting things he said in the mid sixties, 'technology is the answer, but what was the question' was driven at the time by thinking how cars, for instance, were cutting apart cities left, right and center in the mid sixties.

People were knocking down neighborhoods and building freeways and things and he was just saying, hang on, let's just stop a minute before we thread the Cahill expressway right across the middle of Sydney.

How would Sydney be best mo...

how should we move around?

What is Sydney?

How do we wanna work together?

How do you want, what is a neighborhood?

Questions like that.

Then we can get to cars or buses or trams or whatever.

So the kind of questions we're dealing with now, of course are very familiar to us, all increasingly familiar to us.

All this is in intriguing 'cause it's people wearing masks, but you know what, two months before Covid those you remember the bushfires 2019 or indeed the the floods this year.

So Australia weirdly is at this cutting edge, if you like, or frontline of the climate crisis having largely contributed to it in lots of ways by fueling it.

Those are the questions that are around us right now.

Just as the question of indigenous social justice is very present here, just as the question of how do we move around cities, how do we deal with the suburban layout and the sprawl that we've built?

Those, are really vital for us, those huge questions.

As designers, I think we have to have a meaningful way of working with those questions.

I don't think we can solve them, but I think we need to address them.

And that's partly because the, old approaches won't work.

This quote from Madeline Albright, who is the Secretary of State in the US government, 'we're taking 21st century challenges, evaluating with 20th century ideas and responding with 19th century tools'.

You could argue even 18th or 17th century tools.

Most systems of government come from around that time in the west or the north at least.

So there's this problem about the way we're framing the world you can't use the same systems that made the problem also to get yourself out of that same problem as we know we know it, but we don't know what to do about it.

And then there's this question of systems and the kind of interconnectedness of all things.

The way that we design a a conference room in a harbor, in a city like Sydney, ripples through left and center, hits Paramatta it moves beyond that.

The way we consume things or not, they have impacts all over the world.

Timothy Morton, the philosopher, explains this very well with just thinking about air conditioning.

We think air conditioning makes the room cooler, and I guess it, it does, but it's just moving the hot air over there.

That's what we're really doing.

It's taking the warm era of this room and shunting it into the harbor.

Maybe what 30 meters away if that.

So that, air is still in the system.

There is no it's not, it doesn't magically disappear or anything.

It's just, we're just moving it around.

And of course we've used energy to do that, so it's actually made the whole thing hotter overall.

So there is no boundary around that stuff.

There's no awkward or there's no property boundary that makes sense there.

It's not as if the international convention center's air conditioning stops the air at the edge of its property boundary.

The particles continue on there.

It doesn't really matter what electoral ward you're in it's just air moving around in a system and it's all connected.

So that's a huge challenge to us.

So we started since 2009 when I was here, I was beginning to talk about this thing of strategic design, which is how do we use design principles?

I'm sorry, I'm gonna use 'design' in a very, broad sense.

So it includes software design in that as well as interaction design and UX and so on.

But some of the techniques that you are very, familiar with in the last two days, we've heard extremely high caliber work in these areas.

User research, ethnography, agile, iterative, prototyping, participation, even concepts like APIs and cascading whatever the joke was about selection and CSS I didn't get.

It's a long time since I built a website.

So all of those practices and how do we point them not just at the things that we're currently making, which are all good.

I don't mean to seem to say you should stop doing what you're doing.

Just saying that we also need to address this question of the systems around us.

Systemic change with complexity in these societal outcomes.

The decisions we make every day affect those things.

And that isn't a silver bullet at all.

There's no way that is just magically there's a new kind of designer in town who's gonna fix all this stuff.

That would be completely the wrong thing to think.

And design isn't actually very good at problem solving anyway.

I would argue sometimes people say 'designers are great problem solvers'.

I think that's nonsense.

Engineers are good problem solvers and engineers in the room.

You are extremely good at that.

Given a challenge, you'll go away and nut it out and get it done.

Dentists though were also good problem solvers.

Plumbers solve problems.

Designers are useless in those contexts most of the time.

I would stand there going, what is plumbing ? What, is this my water?

Or is it really mine?

But it so design's about imagination, it's about rethinking things.

And so again, it's not very good when the water's coming out, the plumbing, but it is pretty good at thinking about how water might work as a system and all of this thing.

And uncovering the questions within that.

So this was me in 2009.

It's horrifying when I look at this picture.

I can't.

But anyway, that was me then.

And so that was about 13 years ago and I gave a talk at that point.

I dug these slides out last night called "15 years on", which is a weird thing to do now.

Standing here 13 years later, that's 28 years of time.

It's Jesus Christ.

I'm so old.

I've been working with this stuff for so long now.

Maybe that's why I keep pushing at the edges out of it trying to figure out what, am I doing But that, talk then was 15 years since I started working with the Web 1994...

thereabouts anyway.

And it went on this kind of circuitous talk.

I'm not gonna go into it, don't worry.

I could have just given the talk from...

but it was it was going through my work at the BBC.

I confessed that I once built a website for the Spice Girls.

It's got HyperCard in there.

It's got the work I did at the BBC...

Monocle, designing high speed rail networks for Australia.

And then the State Library of Queensland and so on.

I was beginning to sketch out that this, approach to tech was beginning to hit things like train stations and libraries.

And previously on Web Directions, I did.

I showed a bit of this work around the library and just to close the loop there, this is the state Library of Queensland in Brisbane.

I think I overheard you guys were from West End, or you're based up there somewhere.

It's just you.

Yeah, across the water.

So you know where this is, but this was a, model I made of the wifi.

And at the time in 2009, so this is the wifi signal strength, and I did this using a Nokia cellphone and just taking where it was five bars, where it was three bars and this is the shape of the wifi itself mapped onto the building and you can see where it drops out, why it drops out.

And we were looking at then, and why people were sitting all over this thing and using, tech in this way.

And then that became a new library next door to it, The Edge, which was, that's when what happened next after that conference actually.

So it's interesting that, those approaches of user research and prototyping and sketching in code or at least making 3D models were then beginning to be useful in the the spec of what became a new library there.

So what I'm gonna talk about now is 13 years on, from 15 years on in a way, these kind of infrastructures and technologies that are around us and systems and things like that.

Prototyping and finding questions.

I'm gonna talk about the wire briefly.

It's not really gonna be about the Web much in a way.

This is where about half the room leaves, but it is gonna be about design and technology.

I can promise that.

So it's got its roots in the Web and just so you don't have to take photos endlessly, or write everything down, there are these books available that I wrote.

One is very, cheap and one is free The free one is courtesy of the Swedish Taxpayer.

The, because I worked there for the last three and a half years in the Swedish government, so you can just download that one.

The other one awkwardly is is a Russian design school, which no longer exists because of the war in Ukraine.

So I don't actually know if you buy it where any of that money goes.

So be careful if maybe don't buy it, is what I'm saying.

Try and find a pdf.

I dunno, I'm not gonna get any money.

No one's gonna get any money, it's all gone to shit.

So this is the least important casualty in the Ukraine war, to be clear.

Anyway, the other differences between 2009 we've had a global pandemic since then.


The food is a lot better at this conference done John steamed buns and stuff, they weren't there I think.

The gender balance, I would say in my humble observation and the general cultural diversity is a lot better compared to 2009, which is very heartening indeed in the inclusivity general.

People are very good at sitting cross-legged.

I noticed, I don't know what that's about.

People are either fitter or more flexible or there's a, I dunno, there's a lot of yoga classes going on, but also when we look at the tech outside the door here is infrastructure.

A lot of it, not all of it, but a lot of it is infrastructure.

It's Kinde and it's ... you know, it's okta and it's Jira and those sort of things.

Which is intriguing.

So for me anyway, working in the world often of then of cities and infrastructure, there's a lot of infrastructure there.

And that wasn't quite the same then that was beginning to emerge.

But there's an awful lot of that kind of weaving together of the systems, infrastructure, the word means beneath the systems beneath things that connect things up.

That's what it means.

So that's intriguing and there's, a long understanding for what it's worth, I might drop some academic quotes on you now I'm a professor of infrastructure, and I love this quote from Susan Lee Star, who's one of the ethnographers of infrastructure.

This is from 1999.

'Exquisitely boring'.

Take that in the best sense because it, like with plumbing, it's unbelievably important as in nothing happens without it.

It just cannot happen.

The world cannot happen without infrastructure, but at the same time, you don't see it.

It's invisible.

So it's this kind of really complex duality you don't often notice when you're using infrastructure a lot of the time.

Keller Easterling talks about now how actually it is become the, rules governing the space of everyday life, the way that we transact with things, whether it's tapping your Opal card or, Apple paying your way onto the train system.

Those are the things that are, that's why infrastructure is so important.

Again, it governs whether you can get from A to B or not, or what, whether you get to work on time, what work is, in fact.

The other big differences since, 2009, these three things.

So I was talking a lot about tech and the city at that point, and often clients and collaborators were like, 'yeah I get it'.

But, and then within about a year, Airbnb had started but hadn't really got going until 2009.


Uber started at 2009 and then we got WeWork and so on.

Suddenly it became hotels, taxis and offices.

These are fundamental things that have been in cities for 800 years plus one way or another.

And they were suddenly transformed throughout.

You could argue the Web the internet transforms the way that those things work.

At the same time.

They're completely every day.

Uber is a bunch of taxis, basically.

It's it's a well designed app.

You could argue and a bunch of lawyers, but it sits on a, it sits on the idea of a taxi.

So is Airbnb.

It is accomodation.

That's not a new idea, but the idea that you could make it suddenly freely available and then drop it down again with the fluidity of a kind of a an API call that is different.

WeWork, as the office is not a new idea clearly.

But it enabled that fluidity again.

So that, that was interesting.

And then, there's problems . It turns out Uber and Lyft directly increased traffic in San Francisco, a city not renowned for its light, fluid traffic by 40% massively increased because obviously it's not just a taxi in the old sense, it's a system designed to encourage drivers onto the road, the promise was it would reduce, if you remember the early days.

Car sharing, surely ridesharing reduces the number of vehicles we need?

No, not of, not at all, because it's encouraging you as an Uber driver to get out there constantly circling around, just in case I pull up my phone.

That's why it magically works.

It's only ever two or three minutes away because there's a driver waiting right there because the system's encouraging all that increased demand.

So it's a really bad way of handling mobility, but it was completely out of the control of a lot of cities, which was 'tricky'.

Put it that way.

Airbnb has the same influence on rents as you probably know.

And then a sharp rise in traffic deaths and so on.

So these are serious in, serious societal impacts.

This is where the Web reaches well beyond the screen into everyday life.

And the issue with things like that is that Uber, you could argue, just for the sake of argument, don't pick me up on its UX from an individual point of view, it works.

The car's gonna be not far away.

That's magical, right?

And then from a service layer-kind of works.

Everything hangs together from a service design point of view, you could argue it doesn't work from a business point of view without tons and tons of VC funding, but it hangs together.

But the impact on the city, super problematic doubling or 50% plus increase in traffic and traffic deaths, actual deaths.

So super problematic.

Now, is that Uber's fault?

Interesting question.

Is that the interaction designers at Uber's fault?

Even more interesting question.

Probably not it's like they, they are implicated one way or another.

Can they swim upstream to the boardroom?


So I, let's give 'em a pass.

But at the boardroom level, I, you have to be aware of that impact.

You have to see those numbers, and you have to find other ways of making mobility work in cities.

Working with cities and places you have an ethical responsibility to do that.

Can't just throw it online and see what happens.

So there's this 'scales' question there that is really important.

This is a strategic design principle.

'Always design a thing in its next larger context'.

Design a chair in the context of a room in a house and a plan and so on.

Eliel Saarinen said this in about 1909.

He's the guy that designed the Helsinki railway station.

So it makes you think about those scales and work through them in your head.

I think actually this is, this often happens in tech.

Software designers often thinking about distributed federated systems.

That's essentially what's going on here.

You're thinking about those multiple scales.

So what would it look like instead?

Now this is not anything I've had anything to do with, except I know the folk that do it.

And this is the Oslo bike sharing scheme.

This is a typical sunny day in Oslo.

, not really but it's good for an advert.

Sometimes it's like this in Oslo.

I love also sharing this 'cause it's people cycling without helmets, which is how cycling should be.

But let's not get into that debate.

But but the fluidity of that is really important though.

So it's a very, good bike sharing scheme.

It's run by the municipality.

It's actually a startup underneath it that's procured by the municipality to run it called urban sharing.

Really, amazing tech company, essentially.

So there's fast layers at work here.

The digital touchpoints are all very refined and good.

There's slow layers, like the physical bikes themselves, designed again, they've cleverly designed the hardware, so you can plunk your phone on the front, but if the phone casing changes, which is does every two years, it'll still be all right.

Very robust, very well designed.

But the, identity is also interesting here 'cause it's it's called Oslo Bikes.

So in London, where I was working at the time when I was looking at this, the bike sharing scheme was called 'Santander Cycles', which.

Why is that?

Oslo Bikes makes perfect sense.

The bikes in Oslo, the Oslo bike sharing scheme.

I live in Oslo.

I'm, I have access to Oslo bikes.

That all works.

Santander Cycles you Santander's a nice town in the north of Spain and a large bank which is like that sponsors the system.

So how do I feel about that as a citizen?

Does it feel like it belongs to me?

Whereas Oslo bikes, if I'm in Oslo, then maybe it feels like it belongs to me, and there's lots of things going on there, but the identity of it is really important.

And one interesting kind of outcome, which is a bit of a wobbly line to draw, is that the maintenance costs for the Oslo bikes are way, lower than London's.

The bikes do not get thrown in canals, for instance.

They don't get just shoved at the side of the road.

I think some of that this is hard to prove is because it feels like it's yours.

It belongs to you as a taxpayer or a citizen or a resident in Oslo.

They're Oslo bikes.

They belong to me and let's take care of our bikes just like we take care of the streets.

Santader, I know that big Spanish bank can cover the cost of the bike throw it away.

placed with certain kind of English mentality.

I know.

Anyway they do other little tricks on the bike themselves, on the frame.

They've written common Oslo names.

So this bike is called Marit Elisabeth, and then this is an Instagram picture of another person called Marit Elisabeth taking a picture of the bike that happens to have her name on it.

So it's a tiny little thing.

It costs almost nothing just to paint that name on, but it's all binding in civic pride around it and a sort of a meaning or sense of identity.

They also share the data openly with the municipality.

So all of the data, there you go, API, go for your life developer tools and so on for free, which is amazing.

Again, Uber and the like did not ever do that kind of thing from day one.

It was quite, the opposite.

You'd have to try and buy the data back as the municipality about your own streets.

Incredibly problematic.

Even City Mapper actually did that despite the fact it was running on transport for London's open API to power the whole thing.

So the failing of transport for London, not to write a line in the contract saying we reserve the right to get the strategic data back from the app that you are making but this is the thinking through you have to do about making public infrastructure using code.

Anyway, Oslo bikes, they just give the data to the municipality so they can use it for planning and see, ah, that's interesting, there's loads of people heading in that direction, maybe we should have put a bus stop there as well.

For full Nordic brownie points the maintenance crew are recently released prisoners from Norwegian jails.

This is where people are going 'bloody Nordic people'.

It's but so this is this is, I'd say it's a strategic design move.

This is not just like refining the thing.

They don't have to do that.

They need a maintenance crew, but they could have got students or something but why not do a job for society as well?

Why not talk to the Ministry of Justice?

The, then the, former prisoners have a job to, to go to straightaway a meaningful job in public, in society, giving something back to the city.

And you can imagine what that does for them, for the repeat offender rates, as in there aren't repeat offender rates in Norway anyway, much, but they drop even a little bit lower.

So that's the kind of thing you can do.

If my ma...

again, that is a startup, a private company running there, so they're doing a lot of this work, but they're doing it with a wider sensibility about the city, right?

So it's not just individual service question mark.

It's citizen and city at the same time via the service in the middle.

Just thinking through the next bigger scales there.

I started thinking about design and now that you know all how these all fit together, and this is a messy diagram, I don't intend you to dig into too much 'cause it doesn't make much sense.

But it's, beginning to look at that kind of thing to spaces, to services, to systems.

And, I guess the point there is strategic design.

Sort of what I have ended up doing now is trying to roam around-if this was football, it'd be like running around in midfield a lot, trying to glue things together and keep things moving and connect it around.

I'm not gonna be the striker, I'm not the goalie.

They're specific disciplines, but this one is a connecting or relational discipline in that sense.

And that's incredibly important now 'cause technology is, again, leaching out into our world.

This is a great project in Perth Australia has the highest uptake of solar cells on the roof of any country in the world, which is amazing.

Well done.

And so we've got solar cells on the roof there, batteries in the basement.

It's about four different units together in one block.

So that's a microgrid, self-contained, effectively off-grid actually.

Question though, should it be off-grid or does it put energy back into the municipal grid, the wider grid around it?

That's immediately a complex question.

If you don't do that and it's off grid in the middle of the city, then can you encourage these people to pay their rates or their taxes, given that they're not necessarily, they don't have to vis-a-vis energy.

I would make many cases why they should pay their rates.

Obviously, from my point of view with my Nordic sensibility.

But you can see that if you get this framing wrong, you could see people unhooking themselves from social systems and then saying, 'actually why, am I paying taxes for that lot over there?' that immediately breaks down the whole idea of a city.

If we go in that direction, a city is living together, the people that aren't like you and doing it well, getting on with them.

It's a shared environment that is the whole point of living in cities.

So the energy has to woven in that way.

But another one, say I live next door to John's in the top left there, and I'm in the bottom I wanna watch the World Cup tonight.

But John's used up all the energy by making pasta all day.

What do I do?

You could, this system actually in Perth has a blockchain based mechanism for handling trust.

I would argue that's gonna be problematic.

In that instance.

I saw, I would design the system ideally just to say, John, come on or maybe Sally at the back's got some extra kilowatts.

Like you can design a way that encourages social fabric to be part of the answer.

Or you can design a system that removes the social fabric and off outsources that say to blockchain, I'm using that as an example, but that's what's happening here.

Power Ledger is the company.

I think that heart's in the right place and they're doing good work.

I just think these, are the questions we need to have if we let, overlay blockchain based understanding of trust onto something that's actually civic and social this.

Really messy.

But they this tech is full of promise.

This is an autonomous shuttle in the north of Finland.

Little kind of minibus.

Now, I don't think these buses will do much in right in the middle of cities that are complex environments, but actually in the countryside they might be really useful 'cause they can run economically off grid, off peak, essentially.


The, highest cost of running a bus is the driver.

Once you've bought the bus, it's the ongoing two or three drivers 'cause you have shift work.

That's the big cost there.

These don't have that actually.

So immediately a question about jobs and society, meaningful question, but there is something interesting about being able to run this in places that currently don't have any public transport at all.

It could just be shuttling backwards and forwards.

Taking someone to the train station if it's raining or snowing in Finland anyway carrying your shopping.

All of those little jobs that we currently use other stuff for.

So my colleague Rory's done a nice drawing of these things coming together.

We're looking at how does that then play out in an Australian suburb.

This is Sunbury in Melbourne, and you know what, he's beginning to sketch on top there are wind turbines and co-working spaces and smart grids like I just showed you, microgrids the car sharing and shuttles as opposed to everybody having two or three cars each.

How do we make that play?

So I've worked on this kind of stuff for all kinds of people.

I did, I worked on Sidewalk Labs as a designer, which was Alphabet's big smart cities for want of a better word, push.

This is a question here was what is a street?

If you have just autonomous vehicles if you have these little in this case Google shuttles trundling around, you don't need kerbs.

You don't, the building skins can be lighter.

You can put trees in the middle of the road, you can draw kids running in front of them as we did just to make the point.

But it's, it is full of questions so we have to, even this prototyping stage of making the sketch is a way of actually sketching the systems and questions out.

And then what we did was then we made a little prototype video to say, how's this gonna work?

How would you get an autonomous shuttle coming towards you?

And ideally picking up two or three people, not just one.

'cause they can, Dan Hill: they're eight seaters, these things.

So then we made this little video, that's my old watch.

We filmed this in our studio in London.

That's the back wall of the studio.

This is all doing an after effects.

That's Anna who was in my team and we figured out surprise, we invented the bus stop.

Amazing breakthrough.

You wait.

These things are gonna be massive.

Bus stop.

Watch out for it.

Because what you want is two people walking past going, I didn't know that Anna...

let's get in the same thing.

Don't look at the camera, I'll eat, oh, looks at the camera.

Every . So they are not trained actors, they are designers.

So what we're seeing will, Anna trade off time against money by sharing, if she can go direct.

Or turn the money down, it can go a wobbly way and pick someone else up on the way it might be all right.

And then the, so the bus stop there is doing something else when it's not a bus stop, 'cause it's an autonomous Dan Hill: on demand shuttle.

So maybe no one uses it all day.

It just depends, right?

It's Uber pool essentially.

So it could be doing some of their interesting jobs, I dunno what they are we can speculate what that might be.

Neighborhood scale systems.

And then again, you get this way, you get three people into one vehicle instead of three people into three vehicles, which is what we're trying to get to.

So all of those questions are embedded in the film.

Will Anna trade off Time against Money?

Will she get in a small shuttle with complete strangers?

Now Uber Pool and others suggest that some demographics do.

A huge number of people do, but that's massively cultural.

That would be different in Tokyo to Stockholm to Sydney.

And it's also different if you're a 26 year old woman versus a 52 year old man.

Those, things are very, different.

How does it connect the wider end of the scale to other transport networks?

Is it run by transport for Sydney or equivalent, or is it run by Uber?

Massively different outcomes either way.

I'm working on a project like this in Japan at the moment, which is the same kind of thing.

Interestingly, this is run by Toyota.

So just they're no cars in this city at all.

It's just, again, these shuttles on demand bikes, walking, and the street becomes more like a garden.

So that's fine.

If you're building a new city from scratch, you can begin to look at these autonomous systems and there's a lot of tech going on there you can imagine to make that work.

This is an interesting new frontier in a sense, but how do you do existing places?

And this is where, just moved back to Australia from, Stockholm.

A bit of Stockholm called Gambler in Queerer, which is laid out in 1905.

It was a garden city for those of you that know, that kind of thing.

So it's got schools and gardens and playing fields and little houses and stuff.

Very walkable.

Very, lovely.

But then in about 1935 this happened.

These things turned up.

And this is a film, a public information film that ran in Swedish cinemas.

It's quite hard to watch . There, there were similar films made here in Australia.

And there's things happening all the time.

This guy, I've spared you the Swedish voiceover, cause I'm guessing it might be largely useless.

He's called old Mr.

Stockholm in the movie and he's my hero.

He's he's just like holding back the traffic.

It's I've walked this way since 1873 and you are not stopping me now with your newfangled big tech, so people walking to the street, reading a newspaper, you saw the kids playing in the street.

Kids have been playing in the streets for hundreds and hundreds of years.

That's alright.

I will spare you from watching the rest of the film . But it's, it is a film of near misses.

But just to say the street was a social convivial place for a culture, for playing, for standing in the street for you know what?

Reading a newspaper, two people having a chat, things like that.

And that film was basically saying in Swedish it was called "Those who Get in the Way" . That's what 'Dom som gär i vägen' means.

So it's basically saying, get out the way.

Now those days are over.

This new technology is here, we're coming through.

And Sweden, by 1955, was the most car dense land in Europe, which is not probably what you think about when you think Sweden, but it was.

So Gamla Enskede, the nice garden city I showed you in 1958, had this put through the middle of it, which was a six lane freeway, and then expanded to eight lanes in 1983, I think, so, and just like this happened all over the world.

You got the, left hand side then became a, lower socioeconomic status than the right hand side, modified slightly by Sweden having a nice welfare state, but much, much tougher if this is America clearly, or the UK.

To some extent and Australia.

Those were the kind of desire lines that were originally supposed, you're supposed to be able to walk across that, was a nice tram link to the city with bikes and things.

And so now that's what the Garden City looks like, right?

So it's got a noise barrier and stuff 'cause it's Sweden, Dan Hill: but still it's about 80 decibels an hour when it's going full tilt there, which is like putting your head next to a washing machine when it's on full.

So there will be, I think, class action lawsuits from people in years to come saying you our, health has been diminished by making us live in this way, even in places like leafy Stockholm.

So this is what design does.

This is my former colleague, Kieran Long, and he's basically saying, design tells us what we're about.

The decisions we make are really what we are made of.

The way we design a courthouse, the way we design a hotdog stand, the way we design infrastructures, the way we design authentication systems.

They reveal what we think of ourselves as people, as a society.

So what was also going on in Stockholm at that time was these things turned up, which is I'm a, for, its worth a big fan of these things.

Not everybody is, it's fair to say there's probably a lot of fondness for them in this room.

But if I was in another room in Sydney, probably over the water over there somewhere less fondness.

But we, there, what was happening there were about 12 startups simultaneously-voy, lime, bolt, tier, et cetera.

About 12,000 scooters turned up in Stockholm streets straight away.

There's no regulation about that in Sweden, which is interesting.

There's more here for that kind of thing.

Instantly people loved them, a lot of them, and instantly people hated them 'cause it was doing Dan Hill: everything that sScooters do.

And we were looking at that and understanding and talking to them a lot.

The Voy that company wanted to work, a bit like urban sharing I said before, give the data to the city, work openly.

It was really, interesting how they wanted to work.

The city couldn't handle the data, which was interesting.

Another thing I'll come back to.

We were also looking at other traditional ways of moving around in Stockholm at the time, we're looking at other systems continually.

So this is the job of being a designer in this world.

This is only my colleague Brian Boyer did looking at the, these are dark kitchens, if you know those things that power Uber Eats and Deliveroo and things like that.

So when you order your takeout, they're often made in these basically windowless boxes.

And so Brian did this great kind of tear down of it, and this is in Detroit, looking at how does it fit into the city what does it connect to?

Where does the water go?

What does it come from?

Does the grease go down into the sewer?

That's the last thing you want to have happen.

But without this kind of active engaging with it, that's what's gonna be happening there.

So then we're doing observation, then I'm working now.

It's just me when I was in the Swedish government working with other colleagues in the government, taking them out into the streets, basically doing user research and ethnography.

There's Frederick in the top right, staring at a wall wondering why it's so blank 'cause it is And Dan Hill: so what I'm trying to do here is, I'll just play this clip for you in a second, is get people to see the world in terms of systems in a slightly different way.

And this is where Bunk Moreland from The Wire turns up.

Let's just see if the audio works.

[dialog from 'The Wire']Janine: You hung over?

Just saying you look like shit.

Bunk: You know, Janine at a crime scene [Janine] rubber gloves, [Bunk] Soft eyes.

[Janine] Like I'm supposed to cry and shit.

[Bunk] You got soft eyes, you can see the whole thing.

You got hard eyes.

You staring at the same tree, missing the forest.

[Janine] Oh, zen shit.

[Bunk] Soft eyes.


So another design hero Bunk Moreland.

From the wire.

So what he's what we're trying to get at there is: you stare at the scooter, you can see him staring at the scooter.

And if you're just looking at it over and over again, you can't figure out its systemic impact.

You can't think of those different scales, how it connects, what it connects to.

You need to go and and talk to the people, need to understand that, and you need to stand back from the whole thing and say, so what is this fits in this extra small category of mobility.

It connects to the buses.

It could sit on the streets like this.

Maybe we need to look at the sustainability.

You're beginning to try and get as much of the view as possible, so stand back and see the forest.

This is a difference between zooming into it technically.

Often, let's say an engineer might want to take the scooter apart and look at it in full detail to understand it.


But under, there's another job to do, which is stand back and just not obsess about the way the technology works, but look at it in the wider context, looking at the forest.

So then you've done that, you can begin to sketch out.

And while I continue my police procedural drama theme, the system as it fits together.

So this is where we'll often do an investigation wall.

You often, sometimes this is called the crazy wall, if it's a serial killer flick, but the police also do it, which is not maybe worth thinking about . But it's where you have all the names there and you're connecting with bits of strings.

So we were looking at, there's Voy, there's the city of Stockholm, there's the other scooter companies, there's the train companies, and so on.

Then we get them all into the room.

So we run these things called 'System in the Room' workshops.

So this is us being a neutral platform, trying to pull together as much as the system as we can.

The person on the right is from Voy.

The bored looking guy at the back is from the local municipality.

He's a traffic engineer called Mattias.

I just got him a bad time.

He was a very nice guy.

He wasn't bored at all.

He was very, useful getting the project done.

This guy works for Erickson in their R and D lab so tech company and so on.

You're getting them multiple people around the room.

So we've got the operator, the municipality, all staring at the streets themselves, the entire neighborhood there and sketching out together.

And this process again, is well understood in the context of tech.

And Stephen Johnson wrote about this where, about Apple and their parallel production process where you're pulling engineers and designers and the marketing folk and all into the room at the same time.

Starting the, that's trying to avoid dropping into silos, which we know is a huge problem if we're trying to develop anything holistic.

So this is the workshop that we ran then, and what we're doing is reframing the idea of what a street is about at that point.

We're saying that a street doesn't belong to traffic engineers.

Remember the old film I showed you from Stockholm from 1935?

There's loads of things going on there.

Most of it, not traffic, actually, some of it was, but most of it was not traffic.

Kids playing in the street.

Equally valid, right?

But we'd given the streets to traffic departments and, so if you give the streets to the traffic department, you get traffic.

The clue is in the name.

If you gave the street to Gardeners, you get gardens.

But we, don't.

So we gave it to traffic, but we're saying you could do many things with the street.

And we looked at those old films and we explored different ways of thinking about them.

You could use the street to produce clean air, biodiversity, play, learning, commerce, culture, social fabric, all of those things.

All of those things have disciplines or departments associated with them or players or stakeholders or citizens.

Let's bring them into the idea of what a street is.

This is a reframing thing that [???] talks about if the street was approached as if it's a problem of creating health and social fabric and biodiversity.

So if you said that's what streets are for, cause they can do that.

You can make a street like a garden like I showed you with the Toyota stuff or arguably the Google stuff.

Then you design a very different kind of street.

If the street's about getting as many cars through it per hour as possible with as few deaths per year as possible.

Current metrics, , then you get a certain, you basically get a concrete canyon, right?

But the street can do all of these other things.

And so that's this kind of reframing.

So then we do speculative narratives and so we're looking at, then we're using storytelling here.

There was a great talk about narrative yesterday.

Sorry, I've forgotten the person's name who gave it, but it was really fantastic.

Thank you.

But so using narrative in the context of the workshops, we're looking at different possibilities.

Some of them tech, some of 'em not.

Sometimes you can do the speculative prototypes.

This is one we did in Dubai, which is looking at cleaning robots for the street.

If you imagine a smaller version of this trundling up and down a bike lane pulling broken glass out of it, that would be very useful.

And the idea of the street itself then goes on the table.

It's something between this is a quote from the writer, Rebecca Solnit 'the magic of the street is this balance of errand, as in jobs to be done delivering milk and epiphany as in kids playing or people having a chat'.

There's some, for me anyway, so I took this picture in Tokyo.

There's something strangely intriguing about that couple . Maybe they just got married, maybe they just met.

Maybe they've just been in a bathhouse.

Maybe they're just going shopping.

I've got no idea.

But there's something about this situation it's hyper modern and ancient at the same time.

This is a very streety kind of thing somehow a bit magical.

But maybe they're just going shopping and so.

you gotta balance all of those things in the idea of what a street is.

So what we then did in Sweden we said, 'let's do a big old mission about streets'.

Let's, retrofit every street in the country, all 40,000 kilometers of it to be healthy and sustainable and full of life.

And this program is running now in Sweden.

That's the Swedish Prime Minister as well on the left.

So we didn't...the same workshops that we just did with the kind of the tech companies and the municipalities, you can do it at the level of the Prime Minister and they're looking at precisely the same things.

But then we worked with school kids.

So we got Swedish we got Stockholm Stadt, the city council to say, give us four streets to prototype with.

And they gave us four streets with schools on them . And so then the school kids get to design the street.

I have to say kids are better at this than prime ministers with all due respect So the Prime Minister's a smart guy, but kids are really smart and they're very, good designers, very creative, very empathetic as well.

So in their designs for the street we I did some little drawings and they cut them up and then they did their own drawings.

So this is what they came out with.

And you can it's got cafes 'cause kids are Dan Hill: smart.

They know that people need food.

SOme of them even drawing bike parking and scooter parking, and charge points 'cause six year Dan Hill: olds know about those things.

But they also draw fake palms 'cause it's Sweden.

Dan Hill: We don't have real palms in Sweden, you guys, you could have real palms here, so it's okay.

And swing sets and so on.

And then we said, okay, now we generalize this out of that instance.

How do you make then a modular adaptable kit of parts that you could locate and stretch up and down the country essentially.

So we said let's design a kind of boardwalk system.

So there's slabs of wood there.

That fit into parking spots.

This is boring.

An old idea of the park lot, which is a tactical urbanism idea, it's called, and then you have things on top of them as defined by the citizens on the street.

So say maybe you want a barbecue totally up to you, right?

And you want a swing set and you want a bunch of trees-up to you.

We can design those things.

So this is actually very, I would argue Web directions-y thinking there's a platform layer.

There's an application layer.

The platform layer is consistent across the whole country.

It's the parking space law, the size of a parking space, and that wooden slatted system-the same.

The application layer is down to the individual users.

So what you've got on your phone is different to mine, and what you've got on your phone is different to mine.

We've probably both using iOS or Android, I'm guessing.

And you can make applications as well.

So you know, the user decides if they come up with, ah, we've done a, we've come up with a swing set, crossed with a tree crossed with a barbecue.

Probably a very bad idea, but.

But then that, joins the library of elements once it's run through some refining.

So then we built them out there.

These are made in Swedish timber.

Now this is also a kind of a bit of system thinking.

Usually bits of the street, as are made in concrete and metal.



The traffic department puts them out there.

They don't wanna see them again.

, they don't wanna come back for 40 years.

Best case scenario, they just stick there.

But that's the problem, right?

Because streets change all the time.

Those scooters just turned up, no one knew about them 10 years ago and they just turned up four years ago.

So then I, the street, if you made it in concrete like this, has basically been the same since 1880 or maybe 1980.

So it's not built for that.

So we needed, so we used wood because you have to go back and ask the question after about two years.

This is glue laminated wood for any wood enthusiasts in the room.

So it's very good, very sturdy, very strong.

It'll get through two Swedish winters, maybe three if you're lucky, right?

But it's not gonna last more than that.

But that gives you, it's, and then it's got like a clock running.

So you have to go back and almost the alarm goes off when it's really needs replacing.

And then you can go back and say what's the street about now?

Now what's it about?


What's it about?

And it gets that kind of clock cycle, that clock speed is running every two or three years as opposed to 30 or 40 years.

So there's a lot of other reasons to do wood.

Sweden's basically made of wood super sustainable, circular.

This is local wood coming from local forests.

It's CNC milled to fit the street precisely.

You can do all this stuff with wood.

It turns out wood is amazing.

But this kind of clock speed was what I was getting at there from a system point of view, it enables you to get going on something as well quite quickly 'cause you're just Dan Hill: exploiting parking spaces.

In Sweden, there's 55 square meters of parking space per person and 48 square meters of living space per person.

I don't wanna know what those numbers are for Australia 'cause they'll be Dan Hill: doubled that for the parking or something.

So it's, we've, there is so much unex...

exploitable space there for this kind of thing, so you can already use that.

So this is another principle.

Just start with what you can start with right away and get prototyping.

Again, a very, I would argue, 'webby thing to do.

Let's start testing and prototyping.

Let's take a half step forward.

It's not the full step.

We know that the street's gonna go somewhere else next, but it's like a half step towards the future.

So that's what that.

After that maybe trees need to go into the ground properly put roots down.

You want proper grass there or proper something else.

That's another step and a step and a step and you're, but you're on your way by that point.

And every single step you're working with citizens to figure out what it is at that.

So I worked with the artist and musician, Brian Eno, to write some design principles.

And there's a couple of things there, Brian in as a genius.

So is a handy person to ask.

And secondly why not ask an artist and musician about the street?

Remember what I said about streets a minute ago, right?

They're about culture as much as traffic.

So how can traffic engineers get to define the whole thing?

So having him write design principles is a interesting maneuver to make there.

And there's a lot of stuff there again, that I think would be handy design principles and you probably recognize and infer.

And then maybe they also work for Jira.

And Okta, I dunno.

But some of them don't.

Some of them do.

But make places that are easy for people to change and adapt.

Of course, a highly modular adaptive design kind of principle that's been from in the Web from the very first day.

But think like a gardener, not an architect.

Design beginnings, not endings.

There's something really, powerful to me.

It's let's not obsess about the end point.

There is no end point.

The street is continually moving, so let's think about the best possible beginning and get something going there.

So it became this kind of kits-of-parts approach that then ran across three cities down.

Now it's running across five cities.

It continues to roll and roll across Sweden, bit by bit, street by street, parking space by parking space.

It becomes then a kind of a platform for asking questions about what the street is.

In that sense, you can test things on it.

So again, it's almost like a platform in the way that we would understand it from a Web point of view.

So you can ask the question, 'what do we need to do for machine learning driven curbside management systems?' Good question.

So how are we gonna deal with all of the e-commerce deliveries all hitting this tree at the same time?

That's a massive issue in cities as so another impact of the Web hitting physical cities directly.

W need to test that directly and figure it out, you can ask it on this platform essentially.

Clearly it's code as well, but there's a physical element to it.

But you can also ask how do we get more bird song in cities that also can be asked?

And it changes the dynamic of making, not from assuming we know what to do with eScooters, for instance, 'cause no one did Dan Hill: at the time.

So it goes from this linear, almost you'd say, waterfall approach, planning and policymaking first and then we deliver it.

Like four blokes like me sit in a room in the middle of Sydney City Hall, come up with a policy, think about it hard for a while, email it to society.

That is not a very good way of making things, is it?

So this, you would recognize this is much more kind of interplay between prototype, test, and the policy then is crystallized based around the learning from the prototypes.

It asks also that the types of decision making this kind of one minute city end of stuff space just outside your front door.

So wherever you live, just step outside your front door.

That's your immediate neighborhood, your immediate street.

There are things you can organize at that level that you don't need the municipality for, arguably.

So if we wanna play football together in the street, we can just play football.

The impact is very little actually.

As long as we're talking to the neighbors.

And if we wanna plant tomatoes outside, John wants to plant tomatoes outside the verge, I go and help him.


We can help ourselves to the tomatoes.

Anybody else on the street, you can also have some great, we don't, again, need to write to the mayor.

I would argue for that kind of permission.

That can be resolved locally if we're talking to each other.

Making a national stadium, that's at the other end that's like feeding a catchment of about 500,000, a million people.

You need a representative model for that.

It's a slow process.

It's a difficult process.

If you get it wrong, you're really buggered.

You don't wanna have to undo the national stadium.

So you've got these kind of crossovers between participation and representation and this kind of messy bit in the middle, which is really interesting.

Asks the question and again about who's involved?

Super participative at this end, representative at that end.

Using the idea of the one minute city meant that we could also get a lot of in attention around it actually.

So this very small project actually from our point of view in the innovation agency suddenly became this global thing.

But that was all cultivated to build momentum behind this social movement approach.

And that's important because it starts thinking about what happens next and how do we scale this thing and take it up.

So scaling doesn't mean that we need to make a kind of, not Uber.

We need to make the same thing everywhere.

This has to be different in every single street because every single street is different, but at some layer it's the same.

So that's complex.

How do you do that with a community and how do you join the streets together?

Just to cut to the chase?

It turned out it was popular, which is possibly because we asked people as opposed to doing it to them.

So it's like 73, 74% approval ratings for this 'taking car, parking away'.

So usually I get death threats when I try and take car parking away.

In this case, people are saying, more trees please, more seats, more playgrounds.

Which is amazing 'cause they, were Dan Hill: coming up with those ideas, of course.

So that's the best way of getting something done, isn't it?

But really nice and 400% increase in activity and so on.

We work with Volvo cars as one of our partners on it, which is interesting when you think about it again, and this is Volvo Cars car sharing project who started using the things in there, advertising, car sharing mean for every car share car you have in, you can remove up to about six or seven privately own cars in terms of the need at least.

So you can imagine the streets changing like that.

And the CEO of Volvo cars, I'm not saying this is 'cause of the project Dan Hill: we did, by the way, I think this is entirely his own conclusion, but he's saying that now the car is not a very practical concept in big cities.

We can't solve for that reality with the private car.

So the project that they're talking about, which is the one that we were working on, it's to limit the number of cars in cities.

This is a car manufacturer saying this so there's, these are all now beginning to feel like a, actually a movement with some real legs and some real ooph behind it.

And some of that stuff has to do with what we did.

Some of that stuff.

Nothing to do with what we did whatsoever.

Just to be clear about authorship and things.

It's, a lot of it came from Volvo.

And then we're using a platform strategy, which I'm not gonna enter the details of, but basically you've got your common layers here.

Like this would be code bases that are common across the whole country.

Parking space law is a line of code really.

You change that line of code, it does different things and you can unlock that across the whole country, one line of code.

Imagine thinking like that.

They don't think like that to be clear.

That end of the thing, super specific.

So one street to another in Stockholm is very different 'cause different Dan Hill: people on it.

If it's an old folks home on a street, they might want lots of chairs and greenery.

If it's a school street, they might want lots of swings and playgrounds that's fine.

So that's super specific at that end.

And super general down the bottom end.

And in, in the project I wrote up, I started borrowing Linux as a kind of a metaphor.

Now this is where I did a computer science degree in 1988.

So my understanding of how things have moved on is a bit shaky.

But the principle being you have a developer community on the ground, it goes through some kind of check-in process and becomes formally part of the code base.

So that's interesting, isn't it?

'cause you get the Dan Hill: innovation happening at the developer community and then it's absorbed into the general system that can be then made available across all of the other developer communities.

Now it's what I was saying is cities could work in the same way.

Essentially you have innovation at the street, the people, the street belongs to the people, it's their street.

They're doing the innovation.

But from the city municipality point of view, you wanna say, what's, that's interesting, look what John's done with that street.

Maybe that's also of interest to Sally or Ahmed.

Like that's really interesting if they're paying attention like that.

A similar way of thinking.

So again, just to show that Web type thinking can be of use in this kind of city planning.

We looked at then the value that all this generates, 'cause it's not Dan Hill: just enough to have people like me that really just wanna change streets.

You've got to look at how does this generate value?

So what kind of health and wellbeing, outcome, social fabric, it reduces maintenance.

If you put trees on the street, your maintenance costs go down.

All kinds of reasons why this re this is why it's real.

This is all existing research.

If you put more bikes in the street, shops do better.

Shopkeepers never think that until it's proven on their street.

And then they go, oh yeah, But every single city where this research is run, you remove cars, shops do better.

But that debate is happening right now in Sydney and Melbourne as it's just, they overestimate the amount of shopping that's done through cars compared to foot and bike and public transport.

Anyway, there's other interesting stuff here.

You, you decrease traffic noise, you increase birds.

If you increase birdsong on birdsong diversity, specifically people's mental health improves and they recover from sickness quicker.

This is, that research has been done for years and decades, but I can tell you it is not, birdsong is not a metric in any, traffic engineer's toolkit right now for George Street or it's or Balmain.

It's just not in there.

But wouldn't it be interesting if you said the outcome of the street we want is people's mental health to improve.

That's, who could argue, right?

We want people to recover from sickness better.

Of course we do . We want kids to play and learn quicker.



All of that stuff is to do with decreasing car traffic.

So this is the, so what was interesting about this maybe, and again it comes back to the talk I heard yesterday about narratives, is lead with the behavior, not with the attitude.

Don't try and convince people with data 'cause all that Dan Hill: research exists.

I could email it to every policymaker in the country now, wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference.

Cause it doesn't help them win any arguments around it.

When you're standing in Balmain, having a standup row with someone who wants to park their car in the nice playground you just made, that research report is not gonna help you.

It's an ideological, emotional, political battle.

It's not a battle of data and rationality, unfortunately, but that's the way it is.

So behavior change theory, as used by this industry called Marketing says, get people trying something.

Make it easy for them to try it, make it convenient.

And then social proof says if you see people a bit like you doing it, then you're gonna start doing it.

That is the most of the science of marketing done for you right there.

But anyway, so it is like that's the approach we're taking and then the attitude changes.

And you 'blimey, aren't bikes nice?

Who knew that trees you get my point, but you cannot lead it with the data, which throws a whole governance question-whole governance system into question, right?

Because at the moment you elect a representative on the basis they're gonna be informed by experts and make policy decisions for the basis in a rational way.

That is not how thing, how change actually happens.

You need to get people doing things, learn from that.

Watch carefully and engage with 'em as their attitude changes.

And then slowly crystallize the things that are generalizable into then systems that make it equitable.

So start with the prototype and then make it equitable.

So that's what we're doing here and it requires this kind of adaptive approach.

It's not saying, "here's my perfect street in 30 years".

It's "let's just start this first bit here and let's, try growing some tomatoes together".

And you can have it constantly heading to this north star of healthier, more sustainable and fairer and more just every single step will head you in that direction, but you're constantly prototyping and pivoting, wriggling around.

Just again, just as you know when you're making an app, writing some code, whatever.

It's like you try it.

Did it work?

Can I refine it?

What about this?

There's a new module to test.

What about that?

It's trying to get that into the practice of policy making.

I can definitely get away with this reference in this conference, but this is now then staying on target with that North star of being healthy.

That's the key thing here.

That means you've gotta be constantly engaged.

Stay on board with it.

So I'm gonna sum up.

Cause I'm aware we're running a bit over, people have to get to whatever they've gotta get, probably a drink.

So staying on target is crucial to end on because to do that kind of thing, to stay on target while you've got TIE fighters throwing public information meeting requests about your new bike lane at you And you're trying to drop something in the middle of what your mission is about, right?

So what to do that requires an engaged public capability around these kind of challenges.

And that means remember I said to you before about Voy scooters wanting to give the data to Stockholm Municipality.

They absolutely did.

Voy Scooters 'cause they're a Dan Hill: tech company.

Have 30 interaction designers, 200 software, front backend, blah, blah, blah.

Data visualization, not a problem for them.

Stockholm City Council, none of those people.

None of the job descriptions.

So they just looked at their shoes awkwardly when Voy said, 'can we can give you the data.

What, how do you want it?' I dunno.

Well, aren't you gonna print it out?' GPS data from every single scooter, every hundredth of a second to every five centimeters amazing data set.

The, I dunno, you got a USB key it's so unless we have, I'll sum up.

Unless we have informed folk like you who understand the kind of the systems I've been talking about them and the way I've tried to be talking about them.

You begin to feel, I think you can see from the Uber and Airbnb examples I showed you, the Oslo bike sharing where I've ended up even using GitHub as an example in a kind of a tactical urbanism project.

Your skillsets and experiences and perspectives are massively useful in these most complex shared challenges I've been talking about.

Public health, social justice, climate change, stuff like that.

It all comes down to things like streets, gardens, libraries, playing fields, water systems, buses, ticketing systems, things like that.

The infrastructures of everyday life.

And my plea to you is to engage as best as you can.

I don't wanna say stop doing what you're doing 'cause what you're Dan Hill: doing is very important as well.

But we just, we need more people on the public side of things for sure.

Cause otherwise we have a company like Voy again, or anyone of you guys.

And it's an asymmetric situation and that's how Uber and Airbnb exploited it.

Massively asymmetric battle there.

So we need to level the playing field here a bit and focus some of the capabilities of the way that the Web works and thinks on these shared public challenges.

I'll leave it at that.

Thank you very much.

images of models of urban spaces and landscapes and a 3D model of a phone.

Technology is the answer. But what was the question?

Cedric Price (1966)

Black and white photo of 3 men in business shirts and ties looking at a blueprint. The man in the middle smokes a cigar.

Two women, one with a dog on a leash stand on a dock, with a vivid, deep red sky. The women wear masks.

2019-20 Australian bushfres. Victoria. Australls (December 20191)

Lismore, New South Wales, Australia (2022)

Floodwaters inundate a town. A nearly submerged petrol station and a church appearing like an island in the floodwaters feature.

We are taking 21st century challenges, evaluating them with 20th century ideas, and responding with 19th century tools.

Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State, 2013

Air conditioning is about channeling vector flows of bad air somewhere else. Now, on a planet scale, "somewhere else" is just the same place, you're just moving some kind of pollution around within a system, you're not really doing anything. And what you're actually doing, of course, is wasting energy.

Timothy Morton, Rice University

Strategic design takes the core principles of contemporary design practice -user research and ethnography, agile development, iterative prototyping, participation and co-design, stewardship, working across networks, scales and timeframes -and then it points this toolkit at ethical concerns, addressing systemic change within complex systems, and broader societal outcomes.

Me, Strategic Design for Public Purpose, Medium (2020)

This is no silver bullet 😬

Design is not really about problem solving. Dentists solve problems. Plumbers solve problems.

Design is about cultural imagination. Design is about society, politics. It's about discovering or inventing new ideas, and making them into things.

This involves finding, framing, and asking the right questions.

Previous on Web Directions...

13 years ago, I gave a talk called "15 Years On"

Dan Hill speaking at Web Directions in 2009

S;lides from that talk joined up by dotted lines.

Previously on Web Directions

State Library of Queensland / Arup (2008-11)

Man sitting with a laptop on their lap on a verandah.


State Library of Queensland / Arup (2008-11)

Video of a 3D model of the wifi strength in the library.

And then

The Edge, State Library of Queensland

Arup x m3architecture × Timothy Hill, 2008-11

13 years on from 15 years on:

Everyday infrastructures and technologies, systems and cultures, public designers, prototyping questions, and user research with The Wire's Bunk Moreland.

Not going to talk about the web much, but definitely going to talk about design and technology.

Covers of two books by Dan Hill

Dark Matter and Trojan Horses Dan Hill, Strelka (2012)

Designing Missions Dan Hill, Vinnova (2022)

some differences Web Directions 2009–2022

  • We had a global pandemic
  • The food is better
  • Gender balance, cultural diversity, and inclusivity generally is better
  • People are good at sitting cross-legged
  • But also, infrastructure

people sitting on the floor of the convention center eating, using phones and laptops

Good infrastructure is by definition invisible, part of the background for other kinds of work ... (It is) exquisitely boring.

Susan Leigh Star, 'The Ethnography of Infrastructure', American Behavioral Scientist (1999)

The word 'infrastructure' typically conjures associations with physical networks for transportation, communication, or utilities ... Far from hidden, infrastructure is now the overt point of contact and access between us all--the rules governing the space of everyday life.

Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft (2014)

Other Differences

  • airbnb 2008
  • uber 209
  • wework 2010

Two articles on problems with ride sharing. First headling reads "Uber and Lyft increased traffic delays in San Francisco by 40 percent". MIT Technology Review headline reads "Uber and Lyft are behind a sharp rise in US traffic deaths"

  • Individual
  • Service
  • ?


Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context -a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan

Eliel Saarinen

Photo of a gran art deco railway station

Video for the Oslo bike sharing scheme. Shows different people cycling around Oslo.

Urban tech

Oslo Byskkel (2015-)


Four different screenshots from the app. Showing things like current weather and directions


A line of bikes in a bike rack.

Local identity

Oslo Byskkel (2015-)

Local identity

Instagram post shows photo of a bike with the name "Marit Elisabeth".

Shared value

Image of a map with cycling route and time.

Shared value

A man repairs an upturned oslo bike.

  • Citizen
  • Service
  • City

Complex diagram of aspects of different kinds of design and how they interrelate.

Energy as social fabric

Photo of a modern two storey dwelling on Hope St.

Robot bus as rolling community centre.

Gacha, Sensible 4, Finland

Small cute futuristic looking bus.

What questions hide in these new social infrastructures?

Sunbury retrofit, Rory Hyde, Melbourne School of Design (2021)

Dan describes the image of a sketch on top of the suburb of Sunbury.

Sketching systems

Sidewalk Labs / Arup Digital Studio 2012

3D render of an urban space with people, cyclists and small autonomous cars sharing the space.

Sketching systems

Confidential client, Arup Digital Studio (2017)

Video of a looking at a tome table using her watch, seeing it on a wall projected, walking outside to a designated waiting area to wait. Two other people wal up see she is waiting and decide to also wait.

Refining question.

Woven City, Toyota (2022)

3D render of minibuses and people sharing an urban space.

Refining questions for existing places

Gamla Enskede, Stockholm (2022)

Quaint wooden buildings in a semi-rural setting.

old fashioned water colour style map of the suburb.

Video of public information film about car safety. a Woman parks on a tight bend and gets out as a car dangerously goes around her. Children play in the street and are almost run over. An old man in a suit and top hat walks confidently among traffic and holds up a hand to stop traffic headed toward him. A man walks reading a newspaper and is almost run over. A woman crosses a street and is almost run over.

Gamla Enskede, Stockholm (2022)

Aerial photo of a quaint suburb bisected by a multi lane highway. White arrows are drawn on top showing where roads used to connect either side of the highway.

Gamla Enskede, Stockholm (2022)

A desolate pedestrian/bike area separated from the highway by a glass barrier.

It is architecture and design's task to give form to a societal idea (like justice) through the creation of a setting for people to encounter that idea (like a courthouse). We see in our public buildings and spaces (our park benches and metro trains; a hot dog kiosk and a monument to the dead) what we are made of. Design displays or conceals, society's prejudices and weaknesses.

Kieran Long, Director, ArkDes

Swedish National Centre for Architecture and Design


Electric scooter in the snow.


A cargo-type eScooter in an empty semi-rural street.

Sketching systems

Gratiot Ghost kitchen, Bryan Boyer

Sketch of how a container based ghost kitchen might fit into an urban space.


Soft eyes

scene from The Wire.

Investigation wall

Fargo (2014)

A pregnant police officer and tow others stare at a whiteboard with photos of people and lines connecting them.

System in the room

Vinnova mission-oriented innovation process

4 people are sat at a table with a map on it. A woman with a pen addresses them

The process is noisy and involves far more open-ended and contentious meetings than traditional production cycles-and far more dialogue between people versed in different disciplines, with all the translation difficulties that creates.

Steven Johnson on Apple's parallel production process in Where Do Good Ideas Come From? (2010

Video of several tables with several people sat collaborating at each.


Speculative narrative

Speculative narrative

Museum of the Future; Dubai / Fabrica + Future Cities Catapult (2012-15)

A street cleaning autonomous robot

The magic of the street is the mingling the errand an the epiphany

Rebecca Solnit

A young Japanese couple walk hand in hand down a pedestrian area in traditional clothes.

Street Ensure that every street in Sweden is healthy sustainable and full of life by 2030

Street corner with cyclists, pedestrians, Police motorcycles.


Several people including Dan look at a plan for a street while sat at a table.


Three scenes of children participating in these workshops.

A kit-of-parts for urban culture

Cartoon style components for street design on a street map.

A kit-of-parts for urban culture

Prototypes by Lundberg Design, ArkDes and Vinnova

Model parts for prototyping streetscapes.

Video of the modules in location. Modules fit into parking spaces, and include bike parking, seating, stroller parking. There's also traiditona; streetscapes.

Start by starting

Illustration of a streetscape.


Same streetscape as previously, with some of the parking space occupied by these modules, including scooter and bike parking and gardens.


Same streetscape but with more permanent trees and greenspace.

Design principles for the street

Brian Eno

  • Think like a gardener, not an architect: design beginnings, not endings.
  • Unfinished = fertile
  • Artists are to cities what worms are to soil.
  • A city's waste should be on public display.
  • Make places that are easy for people to change and adapt (wood and plaster, as opposed to steel and concrete.)
  • Places which accommodate the very young and the very old are loved by everybody else too.
  • Low rent = high life
  • Make places for people to look at each other, to show off to each other. Shared public space is the crucible of community.
  • A really smart city is the one that harnesses the intelligence and creativity of its inhabitants.

A kit-of-parts for innovation.

A wintry European streetscape. A wooden module has seating and eScooter parking with a single parked scooter. 4 young hipster style people stand talking.

A platform for asking questions in public

Prototype-led policy-making

1 Linear, waterfall, predictive, fund-and-forget

Planning and policymaking. Delivery

2 Parallel, iterative, adaptive, engaged learning

Planning and policymaking [overlapping with] Delivery

Scales and cultures of decision-making

  • Participation
  • Representation
1' city 15' city 30' city 60' city
Greenery Sharedgarden Localpark/allotments City park Wetlands
Football Street football School playing grounds Large sports centre Stadium
Religion Shrine Local Church Large mosque Cathedral
Mobility Bike, scooter E-bike, cargo bike, shuttle Tram, bus Subway
Energy Microgrids District heating/cooling Urban grid Regional Grid

Building attention

Excerpts from news stories. Text is indistinct.

It's one thing to take a space. It's another thing to turn a space into something functional that actually serves the community.

Activist and mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, Seattle

Results of survey of residents on the project.


Volvo M research and advertising

An empty street with full parking either side, changes to a render of the same street with bike parking, seating and other modules and minimal parking

In the old school, a car was something you bought ... People don't necessarily want to own a car, but they want the mobility, the freedom to move ... In big cities, the private car is not a very practical concept. Maybe it's time for a new concept but I don't think the private car can solve that really probably more biking or walking... Essentially, we initiate a project that intends to limit the number of cars in the city - which is fully in line with our company's purpose.

Häkan Samuelsson, CEO Volvo Cars

Platform strategy

Details of the strategy document are indistinct

Value model

Adaptive strategy

A graph of value against time. A dotted line joins a series of points heading up and to the right, leading toward a "north star".

Video of scene from Star Wars (a new hope) where Luke Skywalker says while trying to bomb the Death Star.

The Lego Builders

John just said he sort of felt like a zombie before he said he literally was a zombie. I've got literally no Lego on me whatsoever, not even one brick. It's quite hard to follow a bunch of prizes given out.

A Taste of Design at 60

Originally, as you'll see in a moment, I was an interaction designer, a service designer. But I've since gone on to work on these kind of projects all over the world for my sins. What's driving that then is this deeper understanding of the way we work with tech.

The New Design: Strategic Design

Design is about imagination, it's about rethinking things. The decisions we make every day affect those things. Designers are useless in those contexts. I dug these slides out last night called 15 Years On, which is a weird thing to do. It's 28 years of time.

The role of infrastructure in the city

Infrastructure the word means beneath the systems, beneath things that connect things up. The world cannot happen without infrastructure, but at the same time, you don't see it. Keller Easteline talks about now how actually it's become the rules governing the space of everyday life.

Uber and the Future of Mobility

Uber and Lyft directly increased traffic in San Francisco by 40%. Doubling or 50% plus increase in traffic and traffic death, actual deaths. These are serious societal impacts. You have to find other ways of making mobility work in cities.

The social contract of cycling

The Oslo bike sharing scheme is run by the municipality and a startup. The identity of the scheme is also important. The maintenance costs for the Oslo bikes are way, way lower than London. The digital touch points are all very refined and good.

Cities and the future of energy

Technology is again leaching out into our world. This is a great project in Perth, but Australia has the highest uptake of solar cells on the roof of any country in the world. Question that, should it be off grid or does it put energy back into the municipal grid. These are the questions we need to have if we overlay blockchain based understanding of trust onto something civic and social.

Autonomous Shuttle: The Future of Transport

This is an autonomous shuttle in the north of Finland. In the countryside they might be really useful because they can run economically off grid, off peak. Will Anna trade off time against money by sharing? How does it connect at the wider end of scale to other transport networks?

Those who get in the way of design

In 1935, scooters turned up in Stockholm Street. The street was a social convivial place for culture, for playing, for standing in the street. Those days are over. New technology is here. But how do you do existing places?

Systems in the Room

We run system in the room workshops to bring together different stakeholders. This is a difference between zooming into technology and looking at the wider context. What we're doing is reframing the idea of what a street is about. We could use the street to produce clean air, biodiversity, learning, commerce, culture.

Sweden's plan for a greener city

This program is running now in Sweden, and that's the Swedish prime minister as well. He said, let's design a kind of boardwalk system so there's slabs of wood there that fit into parking spots. How do you make them a modular adaptable kit of parts that you could locate and stretch up and down the country?

The future of mobility in the 1 Minute City

The 1 minute city is running across five cities in Sweden. It becomes a platform for asking questions about what the street is. It changes the dynamic of policy making. How do you scale this thing and take it up?

Advantages of adaptive city planning

Web type thinking can be of use in city planning. Look at how does this generate value. What kind of health and well being outcome, social fabric? It reduces maintenance. You cannot lead it with the data. You need to get people doing things, learn from that, engage with them as their attitude changes.