Types of ICT tools

Authors: Ina Šuklje Erjavec, Vita Žlender

The development of digital technologies opened new opportunities for different collaborative processes, many new possibilities to engage and activate people, and for new ways of interacting with the environment. On the basis, of the possible use of different ICT tools in the relation to the type of function and way of integration in the process of planning and design, place making, place management and community engagement. We have systemised types of ICT tools and their supporting devices according to location of the tool in the relation to the open space and the way of its interaction with the user. In that was we defined three main categories:

  • Place-located ICT tools
  • Portable ICT tools
  • Remotely accessible ICT tools

Each category is also structured into the subtypes of tools, which are defined according to POS, user-related functions and specific characteristics. The subtypes of tools are defined according to the POS and user-related functions and specific characteristics.

Place-located ICT tools

These tools are located ‘in place’ and installed as a part of physical features of POS. Such digital tools add new functions into existing place or are part of the design of the new one, combining digital and physical layers into a new hybrid use. The overview of place located ICT tools is presented in the following table.

Individual digital elements
as new types of equipment in POS
Digital public displays 

Public interactive displays

Multimedia interactive elements

Multifunctional tech totems

Interactive and responsive sound installations

Responsive lighting elements 

Multimedia pavilions

Interactive POS elements: a combination of different digital elements (e.g. screens + speakers + lighting) as artistic installations per se or frames for them, responsive sculptures and fountains, play equipment, etc.

Individual elements for energy provision, as electric vehicle charging stations, solar energy stations, etc.
Digital part(s) of POS equipment or parts of surrounding buildings and equipment
Digital elements upgrading or supporting the functioning of urban elements (these are incorporated into traditional types of POS furniture like bench, table, fence, light, playing or sport equipment, etc.)

Digital additions for upgrading the functioning, maintenance or experience of the area like WI-FI hotspot, speakers, QR codes, sensors, beacons, universal intelligent nodes

Elements for energy provision to support use of portable ICT devices that are incorporated into traditional types of POS furniture, playing or sports equipment, etc.) in a form of plugs, solar panels, etc.

Media facades as part of other built structures, e.g. facades, walls, etc.

Projection mapping (Digital projectors)
Digital projectors as part of other built structures, e.g. facades, grounds, walls, etc.

SAR (spatial augmented reality) systems: 
– Shader lamps (projector-based augmentation)
– Mobile projectors 
– Virtual tables
– Smart projectors (projection mapping), etc.
Responsive materialsAdaptive pavements (adapting to the weather, accessibility needs, etc.)

Responsive verticals (changing by touch, sound, etc.)

Measuring materials (for monitoring the use, conditions, etc.)

Self-cleaning, self-repairing and materials

Portable ICT tools

These tools bring a user to the public open space and establish a relationship with space, other users and/or other premises. Their main purpose for POS development and co-creation is to develop new forms of uses and activities in POS by extending human abilities, i.e. adding a digital sense to five basic human senses and to support a direct feedback of users for better POS development and management. Their structure is presented in the following table.

Smart devicesSmartphones and tablets

Smart glasses (e.g. Google Glasses)

Smart grid

Smart watches (e.g. iWatch), etc.
Place related mobile APPSDirectly supporting learning about place and its natural and manmade characteristics, adding to the experience of place, support moving through it, activity and movement tracking)

Collect and share data on environmental conditions, evaluate conditions, etc.

Directly support place evaluation and feedback

VR and AR apps for opinion and proposal development and sharing, etc.

Other apps are discussed within web platforms and apps (Table 3)
GPS -positioning devicesIndividual or as part of other smart devices
Other personal VR and AR devicesHead-mounted displays (e.g. headsets, eyeglasses, contact lenses)

Multi-projected environments

Combination with physical environments or props (e.g. 3D mouse, the wired glove, motion controllers, optical tracking sensors)
Cameras, recordersMany different options
E-textiles – aesthetic and performance enhancingSmart garments, smart clothing, smart textiles, or smart fabrics providing the added values to the wearer, enabling the interaction with the environment and responsiveness to the personal activities and condition

Wearable computing with microcontrollers, sensors and actuators
Digital health and fitness toolsDevices and apps to encourage healthy habits, fitness and other physical activity tracking, health measurements, Internet connected fitness systems, Environment quality sensors and alarm systems

Remotely accessible ICT tools

This group encompasses, on the one side, a broad variety of ICT tools such as laptops, PCs, screens, mobile phones and other hardware, and on the other, web platforms and apps used for digitally networked interactions such as distant society engagement, public consultation, information and opinion collection, exchange and sharing, voting, etc. Their general advantage is that they can at one time reach a much larger number of people who can also choose their own time of use.

In the structure we focus on aspects that are very important to support different co-creation activities for POS development, such as preparation, discovering, debating, deciding, designing, implementation, maintenance, use, and monitoring of public open spaces. The following table provides a general overview on how different components and tools enable and support different dimensions of remote public involvement.

Type of components / toolsExamples
Social networking platforms and sitesPinterest, Facebook, Instagram
Static web sitesProfessional portfolios, digital curriculums
Blogs and microblogsWordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Twitter
Tools for social bookmarking, taggingTools for social bookmarking, tagging
Online storage
(cloud storage, file synchronisation, personal cloud)
Dropbox, GoogleDrive, iCloud
Social network aggregationHoot Suite, FriendFeed
SurveyGoogle Forms, SurveyHero, Typeform, SurveyMonky, InvolveMe
Content communities – Online databases of multimedia content, that allow users to share online multimedia materials by photo, video, podcasts, presentations, etc.Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa, GigaPan
Youtube, Vimeo
SlideShare, VoiceThread
Internet forum / Message board
Textboards and Imageboards
Quora, SkyscrapperCity
Chat rooms
in the form of Web conferencing, Video conferencing, etc.
Instant messaging
Facebook Messenger, Gmail messenger, WhatsApp
Electronic mailing list, news groupMailing lists of different organisations, companies, institutions, etc.
Online dictionariesUrban Dictionary
– Animated and real-time
– Collaborative (e.g. PPGIS)
– Online atlases, etc.
Open Street Map, Google maps, Apple maps, and many different projects specific and city specific data collection platforms
Web-based simulation platforms and apps
for discrete events, continuous events, etc.
Digital participatory platforms: Mobility Testbed, Commonplace, coUrbanize, TransformCity, etc.
Construction and management simulation games, e.g. city building gamesLincity, SimCity, etc.
Augmented reality appsPokemon GO, ScentExplore
Virtual social worldsSecond life


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