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.

Next Events

Watching Me, Watching You | When Magnum PhotosPhotographers Observe What Is Observing Us

On the occasion of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum solidarity Sunday on 5 February, Edgelands institute and the Magnum photos agency will share the first results of our ongoing collaboration.The round table with photographers Peter van Agtmael and Thomas Dworzak, moderated by Pascal Hufschmid, will allow you to discover their images, discuss their observations and, above all, to see how photography is a formidable tool for becoming aware of the increasing digitalisation of our private and public lives.

Sunday, February 5, 2023 from 14h00 to 15h30, at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum (Avenue de la Paix 17, 1202 Geneva)

More information here.

Past Events

Last Event of the 2022 | Closing Event of "We are Recording You Geneva".

During this event we will first hear from the experience and research finding of the participants of “We are Recording You Geneva.” We will then reflect together about what we have learned so far, and share with you a sneak peek of the activities taking place in 2023.

December 16, 2022 from 17h00 to 19h00, Maison Rousseau

"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.

More information about the "We are Recording You Geneva" here.

"Are you Afraid of the Internet? An Audio-Walk Through Geneva.

Developed by Dezentrum around the findings of the Edgelands Institute diagnostic report on Geneva.

Friday 14, October 2022. AiiA Festival, Genève, Théatre de Saint Gervais

More information here.

You can now listen the Audio-Walk here.

Check back soon for more information about upcoming events!

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