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As we imagine the possibilities of urban areas, I often think about equity and justice. Lately, our conversations around cities have focused on the technologies that surround us. Technology is one of the tools in the toolbox, but how we build and connect with each other goes well beyond the technological tools available to us. To this end, one strategy to consider moving forward is to build localized digital justice principles, inspired by the wonderful work done in Detroit.

The creation of localized digital justice principles can allow for us to have a larger conversation about our collective values and needs. It can create a baseline for the city that can be built upon with strong policy recommendations.

We need a foundation, an opportunity for people to engage in what access, participation, collective ownership and healthy communities look like in the digital space. This will allow for collaborative strategy building that could be decentralized in communities across the city. Our personal interpretations of the technology that surrounds us, or its purpose in the future, is based on our lived experiences.

What we value and connect with is personal and community based, and we have not had an opportunity to navigate that within the city in relation to the digital realm. Yes, the conversation can be difficult, and accessibility is key, but that does not mean we don’t have the conversation.

The use of art-based methods and public education processes can create a realm for us to collectively imagine our digital futures. Building a digital justice foundation through principles is one way we can ensure justice and equity are at the forefront of how we navigate these new digital spaces we exist in and create together.