Geneva

Geneva’s status as an international city, its prominent position on the global stage, its influence on geopolitics, the multi-ethnicity of its population, and its history as a city of refuge and exchange, made it a relevant choice for study and intervention.

Geneva. Photo by Mario A. P.

Geneva is a city of recognized international influence. It is the birthplace of international humanitarian law (i.e. the Geneva Conventions) and the meeting place of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), as well as a financial and diplomatic center with a political and economic role in the world. It is arguably one of the most influential cities due to the overwhelming presence of institutions, meetings, and congresses.

At the same time, as the Geneva historian Alfred Dufour suggested, Geneva was, and continues to be, a city of contradictions: simultaneously provincial and cosmopolitan, conservative and daring, tradition-bound yet innovation-friendly, well-to-do yet humble, business-like but hopeful in its humanitarianism. A city with a long-standing tradition of hospitality, and cultural exchange that shaped its identity.

Geneva’s status as an international city, its prominent position on the global stage,  its influence on geopolitics, the multi-ethnicity of its population, and its history as a city of refuge and exchange, made it a relevant choice for study and intervention.

Phase 1 

Our Edgelands Method starts with foundational research. We conducted a deep literature review of reports on Geneva’s current security policy and surveillance landscape, as well as the current events and hot-button issues in the city. Most importantly, we also conducted interviews with more than 40 key stakeholders with a wide range of professional and academic experiences—security and technology professionals, privacy advocates, academics, community organizers, public servants, police, and journalists.

The aim of these interviews was to understand, from their perspectives, the main challenges that people in Geneva face due to the digitalization of security, and more generally, due to the constant growth of the surveillance society. We heard a great diversity of stories and experiences that painted the picture of a city full of paradoxes and dualities. In this picture, security is a broad but central concept, and encompasses issues and challenges around both physical and digital insecurities.

While the mainstream narratives painted a picture of Geneva as a physically safe, digital privacy-friendly, and democratically responsive and accountable city, our interviewees complexified this picture. They pointed out how the adoption of digital technologies is changing the social fabric of the city, sometimes challenging the appearance that Geneva, as an international hub, wants to portray to its residents and to the world.

We distilled these stories to identify and compile an analysis of trends and challenges which are discussed in our Geneva Diagnostic Report. In May we held a series of participatory discussions with different stakeholders in Geneva, to find points of both consensus and difference on our initial observations. We integrated these discussions into the Diagnostic Report that we published in June 2022. With this, we will conclude phase 1 of Edgelands Geneva and begin with phase 2—workshops and events.

Phase 2

Based on the Diagnostic Report, during the next months we will host various spaces where resident of Geneva can explore, think, and discuss about the benefits and risks of the use of digital technologies to provide public security in Geneva and on the going digitalization of our daily lives.

The first of these spaces is an online participatory survey. For this we are partnering with OPPi to provide a platform to hear from all the residents of Geneva about their perceptions and thoughts around the topic of (in)security in Geneva. The results of this survey will serve as one of the discussion basis for the political, academic, and other participatory discussions that Edgelands will host in the next months.

As a participatory survey, OPPi has great advantages:

• It allows participants to see how other residents of Geneva think about these topics. It shows the issues where like-minded people agree with them or where those with differing perspectives disagree or think differently from them.

• The survey will evolve from the ground-up. This means that some of the comments and suggestions that the participants provide could become statements that everyone votes on.

We invite you to fill out this emergent survey, leave your comments, and come back to it to check the new questions we add !

Next Events

"We are Recording You Geneva:" Surveillance, Security, and Technologies in the City.

Research Sprint. (See the results of "We are Recording you Medellín" here)

Hybrid event from October 13 to December 12, 2022.

Call for Participants Now Open!!!