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Meirav Aharon-Gutman

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion

Tech for Change: the social turn in the realm of urban technologies

Technology has always been the weapon of the powerful, and in the 21st century technology and capitalism go hand in hand. Within this reality, dual markets are created: banks, finance companies and corporations possess advanced technologies, whilst the public sector: municipalities and governments - are far behind. "Smart cities," both as a paradigm and as a product are particularly concerned with the built environment, and not enough with the social environment. The global response to the corona pandemic has highlighted a simple fact: In times of crisis, social issues are the ones that tip the scales: Do people listen to instructions? Do people help each other? Are they visiting their elderly neighbors? Are people prepared to get vaccinated? These "soft" issues are at the center of the event. The authorities responsible for managing the event do not have suitable tools to do so, and in Israel it was the army that set up command and control rooms together with the municipalities and shared its technological platforms for the benefit of the public. The management of the pandemic stressed the need to develop technology based, data driven tools that will create resilient cities. This conference brings together the Cornel Ithaca - the urban-tech program at Cornell Tech and the Smart Social Strategy laboratory, from the Technion to lead the social change in the technological-urban arena. The opening session will discuss and present the challenges and opportunities that arise from utilising technologies in the urban sphere.

Bio

Meirav Aharon-Gutman is Urban Sociologist, a faculty member at the department of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion and the PI of the Smart Social Strategy Lab. Dr Aharon-Gutman is an Acting member of the National Council for Planning and Building and the Academic head of the Technion’s Social Hub. She received her Bachelor’s degree (1998), her Master’s degree (2001), and her Ph.D. (2007) from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Hebrew University (2007) and Columbia University (2008). Aharon Gutman is a Fulbright (twice) and Marie Curie Award scholar.