MediaLAB Amsterdam is now the Digital Society School! You are viewing an archive of MediaLAB projects. Content on this website may be outdated, and is without guarantee.

Computable Award for MediaLAB Amsterdam!

Wednesday November 5th, 2015.

Cisco Systems, one of MediaLAB Amsterdam’s most important strategic partners, came out a winner at the Computable Awards in the Jaarbeurs, Utrecht. They won the award for Best Infrastructure as part of their vital contribution to the joint Design Across Cultures project, together with MediaLAB Amsterdam and Fields of View, a non-profit research organization working on urban systems in India. The award was issued by IT-website Computable and feels like a great victory for MediaLAB Amsterdam, says MediaLAB Amsterdam coordinator, Gijs Gootjes.

Sruthi Krishnan, a researcher working at Fields of View and involved in the collaboration from the start says ‘The award reaffirms our belief that deepening intercultural dialogue and collaboration is the way forward for design’.



Design Across Cultures

The Design Across Cultures program originally started three years ago as an experimental project where multidisciplinary design teams would work on the same challenge within different contexts and share insights, methods and results via Cisco’s videoconferencing facilities and infrastructure. Teams from MediaLAB (Amsterdam) and Fields of View (Bangalore, India) tackled the design challenge of ‘how to improve women’s safety in public space’. In a second edition, the teams focused on waste management.

Central to the Design Across Cultures program is the notion of addressing global challenges, seen from a local context and empowering citizens through (digital) technology. What the first projects with Cisco, MediaLAB Amsterdam and Fields of View illustrated was the effect of designing in different (cultural) contexts. For example, where Amsterdam’s research made the team focus primarily on the perception of safety (women in Amsterdam are relatively safe), Bangalore illustrated the complexity of sexual harassment in India and the necessity to focus on reporting it and pulling it out of the shades. The teams came up with different solutions, but did so based on each other’s insights and choices. The conversations, expert sessions, demos and sharing of methods via Cisco’s channels proved to be vital for this.


Perfect example of collaboration between industry and education

 According to Rob de Wildt, director for Public Sector at Cisco, the projects with MediaLAB Amsterdam and Fields of View are a “great way to match innovation, technology and knowledge. Students apply our products and make them meaningful.” The jury of the Computable Awards acknowledged this by calling it a ‘perfect example of collaboration between industry and education’.


The Future of Design Across Cultures

In the past year and in the coming year, MediaLAB Amsterdam is expanding the program with collaborations in Fukuoka, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Stuttgart and quite a number of other cities across the globe. Cisco’s infrastructure and collaboration software, in combination with MediaLAB Amsterdam’s Design Program and Method Toolkit, are an important foundation for structuring all of these new collaborations between multidisciplinary, multicultural student teams.

‘This award literally means the world to us, and is a great acknowledgement that we are doing the right thing’ says Gijs Gootjes. ‘We started this because we think it’s no longer effective to design everything in the Netherlands using the ‘Western World’ context. I hope this prize helps us to connect with more cities, businesses and other partners all over the world’