BSc. and MSc. Media Informatics (Dipl. Mediainf.) Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany; Honours Degree in Technology Management, CDTM – Ludwig-Maximilians Universität & Technische Universität, Munich, Germany
Irina Anastasiu is a PhD candidate with the Urban Informatics Research Lab, researching how we can foster people-centric cities of the future, aiming to challenge the current techno-centric debate around smart cities. The tagline of her PhD is “Humanising the Smart City”.
Before joining the lab, Irina has spent several years working in industry as a software developer and user experience designer. As a freelancer she focused her attention on developing applications for mobile and web as well as redesigning existing apps to leverage their features and improve user experience. One of her projects involves developing a modern analytics dashboard for Glanos, a Munich-based start-up active in the big data sector.
In collaboration with app agency AppStructors, Irina redesigned Arznei aktuell (the Android app of Germany’s leading pharmaceuticals database ifap) as well as muenchen.de, the Android app provided by the official city portal of Munich, Germany.
At Netlight Consulting, one of Sweden’s top IT consultancies, Irina worked on projects for: Süddeutsche Zeitung – one of Germany’s top daily high-quality newspapers – as frontend, backend and mobile developer; and Sixt – one of the world’s leading car rentals – creating the concept, UX and UI of the currently available iSixt booking apps for iPhone. Irina also spent time as Senior Mobile Developer at NEXT Munich, a Munich-based app agency, developing iOS and Android apps for clients from a variety of industries. She has continued collaborating with her clients as a freelancer years later.
Irina tutored for LMU’s Digital Media and Media Technology courses for one and a half years, holding weekly courses that complemented the curriculum of regular university lectures, as well as offering practical and technical supervision during hands-on courses. At QUT, Irina continues teaching, tutoring units such as Designing for IT and User Experience Design.
In previous years Irina has investigated trends in tangible e-learning, trends for 2020 in the German e-health sector, and what a digital health platform of 2020 might incorporate. During her 2011 Masters internship with Urban Informatics Research Lab, Irina explored the concept of technology encouraging citizen engagement in urban planning by re-engineering the FixVegas project. This ultimately led her to dig deeper into the topic via a PhD.
Throughout her career in the IT field, Irina has noticed a shortage of female role models and opportunities to exchange insights and experiences with other female IT professionals in such a male-dominated sector. This has inspired her to support aspiring female talents in achieving their highest potential. On behalf of this passion, Irina has co-initiated and co-hosted a talk and workshop series called CDTM Ladies at the Center for Digital Technology and Management, which is open to alumni, students and the general public. In this series, the hosts and attendees speak about topics such as presentation skills, salary negotiation, and opportunities and challenges for women in the workplace. It also serves as a platform to meet like-minded peers and exchange learnings.
Irina has spoken professionally at the Netlight Code Pub, a space dedicated specifically to women in IT. She spoke about her work as a software developer and UX designer, and gave introductory workshops on iOS development.
Humanising the Smart City: Bringing Together People, Place and Technology Towards Participatory Citymaking
With increasing urbanisation taking place worldwide, it has become clear that cities can no longer be easily designed, managed and governed in a conventional top-down manner. This is not only due to the challenges faced by local governments, but also due to an growing number of citizens claiming their ownership of and right to the city, increasingly becoming actively involved in its shaping. However, interventions by citizens can fail to generate systemic change and lasting impact when not part of a well-defined framework that, ideally, is embedded within a governmental support network for maximum impact.
Irina aims to look at participatory citymaking from both a “hands-off” and a hands-on perspective. The hands-off perspective involves systematically investigating the local and international citymaking ecosystem, looking into relevant actors and practical approaches that are driven by citizens. It targets the creation of a better understanding of motivation, needs and modus operandi of people involved in participatory citymaking and the role of technology herein.
The hands-on perspective will draw upon these insights to attempt the establishment of an urban innovation hub in the South-East Queensland region through an iterative process, deriving best practices and providing new approaches to assessing the success of such initiatives.
Ultimately, the goal is to generate a practical approach to citymaking that is more inclusive, open, agile and transparent, intertwined with insights how technology can facilitate it. At the same time, it is not just about providing civic services responding to the needs of citizens, but rather reconceptualising the city as platform for citizens to become empowered as active agents of change in their own right.