January 11, 2024: The Western Academy welcomes Katharine Willis



Digital technologies have transformed how we inhabit our physical world.  Dr. Katharine Willis is committed to understanding how these technologies affect our relationships to the cities, neighbourhoods, and communities where we live. 

From January 13 to January 27, Katharine will be in residence at Western University as a Visiting Fellow with the Smart Cities and Communities team.  Together with Western Fellows Drs. Ayan Sadhu, Abdallah Shami, and Anabal Quan-Haase, Visiting Fellow Dr. Jalel Ben-Othman (University of Paris-Sarclay) and Postdoctoral Scholars Drs. Liangfu Ge and Dimitri Manias, Willis will investigate the benefits and challenges of data-driven approaches to urban planning.  Willis will return to Western University for subsequent residencies throughout 2024.

Please join us for a special conversation with Katharine, which will take place on Tuesday January 16 at 10:30 am in the International and Graduate Affairs Building, Room 3N73.*  More information below:



AI, Data and the City

Data and AI now underpin city infrastructure and shape urban living but there are many questions as to how they include and exclude groups and individuals and who has access. There is a real need to explore how AI and data enable people to participate more actively in the design and inhabitation of the city and how this can enable patterns of behaviour change that lead to net zero and low carbon communities. 

A data-driven approach to urban life requires new modes of thinking about who has access to information and how this access enables different modes of citizenship or governance. 

This talk will present a series of case studies of projects that engage with AI and data in an inclusive approach and will discuss the corresponding implications for AI, data and the city. 

About the speaker 

Katharine S. Willis is Professor in Smart Cities and Communities in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Plymouth (Plymouth, UK). Her research expertise includes smart cities, smart villages, digital technologies and the role of space and place. Her research explores how new technologies can create ways for people and communities to engage with place, with a particular focus on social and digital inclusion. She has extensive experience working collaboratively through participatory methods with marginalized groups and in deprived neighborhoods. 

She has published widely on the topic; she is co-author with Alex Aurigi of two key Routledge volumes on Smart Cities, and the monograph Netspaces: Space and Place in a Networked World.  Her interests have included investigating how people shape smart and digital technologies to their needs in the UK, India and Brazil.  She is currently a Visiting Fellow with the Western Academy for Advanced Research.

This event is supported by the Western Academy for Advanced Research in collaboration with the Faculty of Information and Media Studies and the Faculty of Engineering. Please direct any questions to Lindsey Bannister (lbannis@uwo.ca).


*Amendment to previous announcements-- this event will take place in IGAB 3N73 (not 3N72).