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How Technology is Shaping Our Cities with Alex Lovegrove

Alex Lovegrove, our UK Ambassador, spoke about how Human Geography and technology are intertwined - and why it's so important to developing cities.

Akash

Sinha

November 12, 2020

Alex became interested in emerging technology - and dGen - after discovering smart cities, and the important role that technology plays in our lives.

Alex Lovegrove is our resident Ambassador in the UK. With her experience in public policy and planning, Alex outlines some of the ways that tech and society can shape each other and our surroundings. 

Most recently, she has been helping out by talking to experts about how voting and governance might look on blockchain for our recent report, Democracy Decentralised: Voting, Governance & Transparency. Otherwise, she helps us bridge the gap between policy, society, and tech.

Hey Alex, could you give us a bit about yourself and your background?

Hi! I am a Human Geography graduate currently living in Portsmouth, UK. I have always had a love for travel and experiencing new places, so studying Geography for my undergraduate degree seemed like a natural progression for me. I also got to live and study in Canada for 6 months as part of my course, which was probably the highlight for me! 

Since graduating, I have been working in Planning Policy in the public sector. 

It has been interesting to see how urban challenges are prioritised and addressed at local government level and how this informs policy that plans for 20 years into the future - a difficult task when the tech landscape evolves so rapidly! 

I also hope to pursue a Masters, though I am extremely indecisive so I’ve not come to any conclusions on what or where yet!


What does a Human Geographer do? Could you tell us what piqued your interest in emerging tech? 

Broadly speaking, Human Geographers study the relationship between people and places.

Human Geography is such an interesting subject because it covers so much, and you end up exploring areas you didn’t think that you ever would - for me this is tech! 

Throughout university I was very interested in urban social geography, which looks at how the urban environment affects human relationships on social, economic, and political levels, and how this concurrently reshapes the city. So basically, I really enjoyed learning about how cities evolve and grow, and an increasingly influential element in that evolution is technology!

As I learned more about the growth of smart cities, it became clear that geography and tech go hand in hand. This was what initially piqued my interest in emerging tech, and now I am enjoying exploring applications of emerging tech beyond the realms of urban development, particularly the use of blockchain in political contexts such as voting and fake news. Having experienced the political turbulence of Brexit, I find these areas extremely interesting and they also seem increasingly relevant across the rest of the world!

 

What are you passionate about in emerging technologies? 

Cities have experienced rapid population growth in recent years and this number is only expected to grow over the coming decades. As such, cities are having to become more efficient in order to combat the growing pressure on resources and services that we all need, such as waste collection, public transport and energy distribution. 

Emerging technologies are providing innovative solutions to everyday urban challenges, which can improve the quality of life in cities and ultimately make them more enjoyable places to live! 

By incorporating smart city technology into our development plans, we can optimise infrastructure, mobility, public services and utilities. This kind of tech supports everybody in society, so it’s definitely something that I feel passionate about!


What drove you to become an ambassador?

I discovered dGen while browsing for online opportunities, and was initially hooked by the report Smart Cities: Improving mobility in Berlin through Decentralisation. Beyond aligning with my interests, I found dGen exciting, accessible, and creative, in a way that is welcoming to longstanding tech enthusiasts and newbies alike. 

Working in the public sector, I understand the importance of bridging the knowledge gap between public, private, and individual bodies, so dGen’s digestible, but equally informative, digital content peaked my interest immediately.

Additionally, we are encouraged to tailor the programme to suit our own professional interests. For me, the programme presented the opportunity to gain experience in marketing and research, as well as increase my knowledge of digital publishing within the context of a think tank. The flexibility of the programme, both in terms of what tasks we get involved with and workload alongside other commitments, made the ambassador programme the perfect opportunity for me to gain the experience I was looking for. 


Would you recommend the dGen Ambassador Programme to upcoming tech and blockchain enthusiasts?

Definitely! Being fairly new to the tech space, I wasn’t certain that I had enough knowledge of the European ecosystem to be an ambassador. However, during my interview, it was quickly made clear to me that I would be given the support to ensure that I was confident completing tasks and that the dGen team and my fellow ambassadors were there to help! 

Since starting the programme, I have had the chance to expand both my knowledge and network within the UK tech ecosystem, connecting with industry professionals and tech enthusiasts to contribute to upcoming projects. This has been a great learning opportunity for me, and something that I would absolutely recommend to anyone with an interest in emerging tech and the impact on people and society throughout Europe. 


Thank you so much, Alex! It’s been a pleasure working with you, and we look forward to further incorporating the fundamentals of Human Geography and interplay between our work and public policy in our future research.

Akash has a background in digital marketing and works on UX and UI design. His passion is technological development, and he is currently exploring where emerging technologies will take society.