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Research: Cultural Civic Computing

Remapping LA


Remapping LA is a long-term research effort started by REMAP in 2006 to engage urban communities in the design of technological systems that express their cultures and identities.

The multi-year project features a decentralized approach to technological development, which is centered on three key principles: 1) Participation of the general populace, with an emphasis on the involvement of Los Angeles teenagers, families, and educators; 2) Awareness of the context in which the systems are being designed; 3) Encouragement of tangible and meaningful interfaces between project members and media.

Through Remapping LA, REMAP has conducted a series of discussions, workshops, and training sessions in association with community organizations throughout Los Angeles. These processes facilitate citizens’ own mapping of their urban networks with personal digital technologies, such as mobile phones, global positioning system (GPS) devices, digital cameras, and geographic information systems (GIS). Their discoveries- expressed in maps, photography, audio and video recordings, and written documentation- will continually update a historical database already being established, and serve as the source materials for collaboratively-created indoor and outdoor media installations, performances and other cultural works to be located in Remapping La's living laboratories: the Los Angeles State Historic Park, the adjacent Chiparaki Cultural Civic Computing Center, and nearby sections of the Los Angeles River. The methodology of the research consists of repeating cycles of three steps: first, exploring the city; second, designing and developing new technological systems that express what is discovered; and third, inviting the rest of the city to experience and comment on what is created.

Ultimately, REMAP will create prototypes for decentralized urban computing. Cultural civic computing systems will form by pooling interpretive databases, imaging tools, sensing instruments, and wireless mobile devices. These networks promise important practical developments, including comprehensive investigation of the cityscape and enhanced interpretive media tools. Most significantly, the project will generate a fluid and inclusive expression of the identity of Los Angeles. By enabling communities to explore their environments and retell their histories using technology they help to develop, Remapping La will yield a deeper understanding of how emerging platforms for collective memory, communal self-representation, and community involvement may augment the quality of life in Los Angeles and other technologically advanced modern urban centers.

Project outcomes are described on the Civic Cultural Computing page.

  • Principal Investigator: Fabian Wagmister, (fabian at ucla dot edu)
  • Co-Investigator: Jeff Burke
  • Project Coordinator: Chase Laurelle Knowles
  • Team: James Dellemonic, Taylor Fitz-Gibbon, Diana Ford, Ryan Dorn, Vanessa Holtgrewe, Eitan Mendelowitz, Vidyut Samanta, Jonathan Snipes, Javier Rivero-Diaz, Diego Robles, Alejandro Wagmister
  • Associated Faculty: Deborah Estrin, William Kaiser, Bruce Vaughn

UCLA Partners

  • School of Theater Film and Television
  • Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Center for Embedded Networked Sensing
  • Center for Community Partnerships

Community Partners

  • William C. Velasquez Institute
  • The City Project / Center for Law in the Public Interest
  • Resources Law Group / Packard Foundation
  • Haynes Foundation
  • Anahuak Soccer Federation

Industry Support

  • Cisco Systems
  • Nokia
  • Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development, Inc.