Social Resilience Digital Tools assessing Refugee Shocks in the Urban Open Spaces of “arrival neighborhoods” in Thessaloniki

Eleni Oureilidou
march 10, 2018 to April 4, 2018

This STSM aims to investigate on digital tools that would assess the integration of refugees in the urban open spaces of “arrival” neighborhoods in Thessaloniki. The coming of refugees in these neighborhoods challenges the social capacity and adaptability of local communities. Thus, this research associates the use of digital tools with their potential role in ameliorating the refugee crisis in Thessaloniki, raising new opportunities in resilient place-making. At first, the theoretical background is established through the analysis of the following concepts: Resilience and its typologies, Urban Big Data landscape and the use of digital tools. The research reveals how urban policies have incorporated the use of digital tools as parameters of sustainable and inclusive urban landscape design. Subsequently, the research questions the use of digital tools in the stimulation of social resilience of urban open spaces and the long-term integration of refugees in the public realm.
In the context of the STSM, urban open spaces are read as recipients of collective life and urban progress. Main research hypothesis is that the use of digital tools that are related with the use of public spaces transform them into incubators of inclusive planning ideas. In addition, it is assumed that the digitally augmented urban open space sparkles incentives for the process of social integration and enhances the societal perspectives of bottom-up initiatives. Subsequently, an understanding of the Greek context takes place. In this framework, it is assumed that neighborhoods of higher morphological fragmentation become the receptors of mobility, hosting exponentially the lower-class strata and the refugees in Thessaloniki. The proposed research methodology includes the detection of digital tools that would involve refugees as stakeholders in decision-making processes. The use of these digital tools
would infuse the social networks of cultural diversities and sustain a parallel cultural co-habitation in open spaces in Thessaloniki. In the end, this research feeds the discussion about the production and use of public open spaces under the condition of the refugee crisis. In addition, it delves into the social perspectives of the use of information and communication technologies and its relationship with open spaces in the cities, which is the main objective of the EU funded COST1306 Action “Cyberparks”. The literature review that is presented in this STSM could provide COST TU1306 with a better idea on the relationship between urban open spaces and the social integration of refugees, building networks for future collaborations and the exchange of innovative ideas. Lastly, it could provide the theoretical background on how urban fragmentation in Thessaloniki could become an opportunity for the integration of diverse cultural communities in the public space with the use of digital tools.