Edgelands Institute

The Edgelands Institute is a multi-disciplinary organization that uses academic research, data, and art to explore how the digitalization of urban security is changing the urban social contract — the often-unseen rules that govern our cities. We create pop-up spaces that bring citizens, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders into dialogue about the way that digital tools are being used by city governments and transforming urban social fabric.

The Edgelands Institute is a global movement. We set up temporary residence in select cities across the globe that have made innovative strides in their use of digital technologies, particularly in application to security. Our first stop is Medellín, Colombia, where we are engaging local youth in research and activism that focuses on how city leaders are using surveillance tools to address crime in the city.

Read more about our work in Medellín here.

What are the "edgelands?"
The "Edgelands" is a term used by city planners to describe the transitional, liminal areas of space found on the boundaries of country and town. As the global population continues to urbanize and cities grow, these boundaries may begin to blur or even disappear altogether.

At the Edgelands Institute, we've applied this concept of liminal space to the boundaries between public and private life in urban spaces. Digital tools used to monitor people and places or exchange information have the capacity to change the frameworks of authority (the social contract) between a government and its citizens.

What is a pop-up space?

A pop-up space (or a "pop-up") is a space that is in temporarily activated for a specific use. Most often, pop-ups are retail or event spaces that appear for a brief period to create buzz around a certain item or idea.

The pop-up concept — as well as the energy it brings— is central to our work at Edgelands. We believe that incorporating the pop-up as a mode of engagement will break down the barriers of accessibility and diversity of experience that so often exist in traditional academic and policymaking circles. Furthermore, the excitement of pop-up events spreads awareness of the complex issues that we work on. We create spaces for dialogue and research both on and offline that are collaborative and compelling.

Our Institute is temporary by nature, and will only exist for a few years. Our mission is to catalyze movements for digital transparency in cities and support local communities to independently bring these movements forward.

our team

Executive Chairman & Co-Founder

Yves was the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross from 2010-2020 and is now a Fellow at the Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society and a commissioner of the #Principles4Peace initiative. During his tenure at the International Red Cross, the impetus of wars shifted from conflicts over land ownership to conflicts over ideology and data. Yves saw what happens when the texture of everyday’s societies is ripped apart. His increasing encounters with mass surveillance and misinformation campaigns led Yves to create the Edgelands Institute.

Co-founder & Head of Research

Beatriz Botero Arcila is a lecturer in law and Assistant Professor at Sciences Po Law School in Paris and Head of Research at the Edgelands institute. Her work focuses on how the digital revolution is transforming cities. She is a specialist in privacy law, surveillance, data governance and local government law. Beatriz is a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She holds an SJD and an LLM from Harvard Law School and a LLB from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. While in law school, Beatriz also trained as a classical pianist.

Co-Founder

Danil is an experienced executive with more than a decade in business development, international & cyber security, technology strategy and policy. Danil has tremendous experience working with Fortune 500 companies, venture and start up communities, top government leaders, civil society, academia, international and regional organizations.

Urban strategy and Communications

Adriana directs urban strategy and communications for Edgelands. Her background in system-change work with a focus on narrative has led to her current focus of studying how digital and tactical interventions can be harnessed to build trustworthy and responsive spaces.  Adriana is currently a Master’s in Urban Planning candidate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She also holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Research Associate

Laura is a Ph.D. in Law candidate at the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology, and Society. She holds an LLB from Los Andes University (Bogota, Columbia), and an LLM with a concentration in Law and Technology from the University of Ottawa. Laura is interested in the interplay between technology and society, and the role that law can play to ensure that human rights are respected on the path to innovation. Her Ph.D. research focuses on how to regulate digital technologies with location capabilities beyond the data protection framework to protect our privacy in our interactions with private companies.

Research Associate

Bernard was a journalist, correspondent for Swiss public service television in the United States before becoming the editor in chief of the Department of Information for more than a decade. With a particular interest in the challenges of the digital world with the creation of the RTS multimedia service in the early 2000s.

Research Associate & Community Organizer

Santiago is a lawyer and researcher at the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society. He completed his M.Phil. in Development, Environment and Cultural Change at the University of Oslo and holds an LLB from Universidad de los Andes. He co-founded and was Head of Sustainability at Leaf-up.Org, a tech start-up working for climate change and food security solutions. Santiago’s current interests focus on the ethics of digitization, surveillance, and responsible digital transformations.

Research Associate

Fabian Hofmann is a member of Edgelands' Geneva-based Research Team. He holds a BA in PoliticalScience and Sociology from the University of Basel, Switzerland, and is currently pursuing a Master in International Relations and Political Science at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies. Fabian’s current academic interests lie in unpacking how digital technologies and infrastructures gain political power and influence democratic processes.

Research Associate

Jamie Guterman is a Sophomore and Presidential Scholar at Florida State University's Honors Program. She's studying Information, Communication, & Technology (ICT) and is interested in how the information age has shifted social dynamics. Her current research investigates the psychological mechanisms underlying how misinformation spreads online. Jamie hopes to harness her research skills to understand how we can shape a more equitable digital future.

Research Associate

Jeanne Cordy is a Master student in International Development at the Graduate Institute of Geneva with a bachelor degree in political sciences. Her current interest lies in the link between social contract's dynamics and contemporary global challenges such as the growing importance of digital technologies in our daily lives, climate change and global inequalities.

Research Associate

Klea Bogdani is a Master of International Affairs student at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. She holds a BA from McGill University (Montreal, Canada). Klea is part of the research team in Geneva at the Edgelands Institute. She is particularly interested in exploring the motivations behind the key actors who use and disseminate digital surveillance technologies, and how these technologies impact the “security” of communities and particularly, the lives of undocumented migrants. Klea seeks to adopt a grass-roots and interdisciplinary approach in her research. When she isn’t working or in class, Klea enjoys running, discovering places to eat, and traveling with friends.

Research Associate & Community

Oswaldo Zapata-Mazo is a young researcher in decision and behavioral sciences. They are currently finishing their training in Psychology and Political Sciences with an emphasis on Neuroscience and Government and public policies respectively. They have developed activism and social work around peace building, citizen participation and territorial mental health.

Research Associate

Master in Social and Educational Interventions from the University of Barcelona, Political Scientist from the EAFIT University and business administrator from the same university, with an interest in development of educational innovation projects and intervention community. Coordinator project for the school transformation of the EAFIT University. She has worked on projects and programs for the social appropriation of knowledge, education, active learning and community development from different settings such as science museums, university or NGOs. Currently, she is interested in methodologies for social intervention and territorial.

Community Organizer

, MedellínMaría Camila Roldán is a political scientist with emphasis in public law from Universidad EAFIT (Medellín, Colombia). She has participated in leadership actions and research related to citizen participation in the Colombian constitutional court.

Research Associate

Paul Deshusses is a teaching assistant and a PhD candidate at the Geneva Graduate Institute (IHEID). He holds a Master in Political Science (UNIGE), a Master Erasmus Mundus in Bioethics (KU Leuven, Radboud, Padova) and a Master in International History (IHEID). He was an ethics teacher for the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO). His research on the history of biosemiotics is at the nexus of philosophy, life sciences and literature.

our Board

Global Advisory Board Member

Ariane Koek is a international Strategic Consultant, Producer and Writer Arts Science Technology & Arts Residencies. Today she works independently and internationally as a strategic partner/associate, creative producer, curator, writer, and mentor in arts science technology and knowledge crossover projects. Her career is dedicated to the power of creativity, imagination and knowledge for cultural, social, political change and innovation for the good of all.

Global Advisory Board Member

Jesus cares about the future of cities and governance models. He’s obtained Excellence Honors for both of his academic degrees, Mechatronics Engineer and PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. As a technology entrepreneur, he praises data-driven strategies and top technology to address global challenges. He’s fully committed to growing OS City, a company he co-founded to make cities more sustainable and governments more trustworthy.

Global Advisory Board Member

Charlotte is the Global Disability Advisor for the World Bank Group and an internationally renowned thought leader on disability and inclusion.

Global Advisory Board Member

R.T. Rybak is the president and CEO, The Minneapolis Foundation. R.T. spent 30 years in journalism, publishing, marketing, and the Internet before serving as Mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2013. His most significant career focus has been developing equitable career paths for youth of color.

Global Advisory Board Member

Aleksandar is a serial entrepreneur and expert for digital innovation in regulated markets. As the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder at AVA, a Berlin-based data fusion platform and artificial intelligence, his ambition is to democratize access to risk-intelligence and to enable individuals, organizations, and societies to make the best-informed decisions regarding security and public safety.

Global Advisory Board Member

Dr. Xiaodong LEE is the founder and CEO of Fuxi Institution, which is focusing on Internet Innovation and Development and dedicating to advancing practice-oriented Internet services and research on Critical Internet Infrastructure, Big Data, Cybersecurity, Internet Development and Governance. Professor and Director, Laboratory for Internet Infrastructure, Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Director of Center for Internet Governance and adjunct Professor of School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University. He is serving as Vice President of Internet Society of China, Member of Global Future Council of World Economic Forum (WEF), Commissioner of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC), Commissioner of Global Information Infrastructure Commission (GIIC), Member of All-China Youth Federation.

EDGELANDS BLOG

The participants of Social Lab Mi Sangre

The “social lab” is Mi Sangre Foundation’s methodology for creating an ecosystem of transformation that relies on collaboration and capacity as modes of interrogation.

June 22, 2022

Social Labs: “We are Recording You”

The “social lab” is Mi Sangre Foundation’s methodology for creating an ecosystem of transformation that relies on collaboration and capacity as modes of interrogation.

An illustrated diagram of all learnings from Medellín so far. Made by Juan Escuervo.

We were joined by the voices and ideas of experts, institutions, and advocacy actors from this city at a round table. Here are the main findings.

June 20, 2022

What have we learned in Medellín so far?

We were joined by the voices and ideas of experts, institutions, and advocacy actors from this city at a round table. Here are the main findings.

This picture illustrates our findings from the discussion with migrant women in Geneva. On the left we see that there is a variety in the perceived risk of engaging with digital technologies, however, the graph shows that the women predominately viewed the risks as low. On the right, it is clear that the use of technology is relatively high. Examples mentioned repeatedly include WhatsApp, Instagram, Google and Facebook (to name a few).

Edgelands had the chance to speak to a dozen female migrants in Geneva to hear their thoughts on the findings of our report.

June 16, 2022

How migrant women in geneva bypass digital exclusion

Edgelands had the chance to speak to a dozen female migrants in Geneva to hear their thoughts on the findings of our report.

This image was taken during the workshop Edgelands held with seniors from Geneva. On the left, participants shared that their use of technological tools was generally low, using devices mostly for work and staying in contact with friends. On the right, participants noted feeling distrustful of cookies, e-banking, and algorithms for example. Note: the sticky notes at the top of the left photo represent the answers of Edgelands’ employees.

Edgelands had the opportunity to engage with the senior community in Geneva to understand how the advent of digital technologies has impacted the social fabric of the city.

June 14, 2022

Conversation with Seniors in Geneva

Edgelands had the opportunity to engage with the senior community in Geneva to understand how the advent of digital technologies has impacted the social fabric of the city.

A very rich diagram of all discussions with separations between data and surveillance.

Edgelands was joined by politicians, journalists, privacy advocates, social workers, and experts in technology and society issues to discuss the digitalization of security and the impact of surveillance society in Geneva.

June 13, 2022

1st Participatory Discussions: Geneva

Edgelands was joined by politicians, journalists, privacy advocates, social workers, and experts in technology and society issues to discuss the digitalization of security and the impact of surveillance society in Geneva.