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Dubai Futures Foundation

Future of Government Services

The first of a multi-year series of events and experiments, the Future of Government Services was a combined strategy, research and critical design installation that aimed to look at ways in which modern governments do and may use technology.

This challenging project started with a months of research and strategy-forming, involving experts and thinkers from around the world. Following a grueling editing process, the team arrived at groupings to organize all of this research, including themes like the way people might be treated at national borders, public healthcare, and education. We then built interactive examples from each theme such as a bathroom filled with government health monitoring and notification apparatus. These examples, imagined as artifacts and vignettes from the future, were meant to demonstrate to users that more convenient services might easily come tied to a level of surveilance of individuals which is, even today, hard to imagine. We attempted to create neither a distopian or a utopian vision, but rather one which was pleasant enough to see why people might actually be enticed by the things we were showing, such as autonatic micro-administration of medication without the need to visit a doctor (a "benefit"), but also transparent about what kind of data would be required, such as continuous monitoring of an entire population's biometric data (the "cost"). These examples were then exhibited as a fully immersive pop-up "museum" at a conference for government employees in the United Arab Emirates called the Government Summit.

The project was paid for by the government of the UAE, and its motivations for doing the project must have been complex. Regardless, my team and I were given the opportunity to present confrontational work about subjects we care deeply about to an audience of public servants and politicians from around the world who were not expecting this type of experience. Through brief interviews with attendees at the entrance and exit to the area we found that it was successful enough in provoking critical thought to demonstrate the merits of this approach to sparking dialogue.

As a production effort it presented numerous systems, media and software challenges.

My contibutions:
production oversight, software development, system automation, and testing.

Tellart led all aspects of the project from concept to installation, with support from an international team of partners including Dan Hill, Fabrica, Institute for the Future, Superflux, Near Future Laboratory, Atelier F and Publicis Live.

Photography: Tellart

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