The workshop Culture and Safety in Africa: Developing a Methodology Guide, which was held in Switzerland between the 10th and 14th March 2012, focused on the creation of a research methodology for Mobile Access to Knowledge: Culture and Safety in Africa. This represented the second phase of lettera27's Mobile A2K project, which aims to study the impact of public art and cultural events on urban safety in the cities of Douala, in Cameroon, Luanda, in Angola, and Johannesburg, in South Africa.
The research will involve two distinct series of activities: in 2012 it will involve creating an overview of public art, cultural events and safety in the three cities, for the period between 1990 and 2011; in 2013 a series of case studies will be developed through qualitative interviews and the production of user-generated content, in particular through mobile telephones. The fieldwork will be carried out by Ismail Farouk, Fabio Vanin and Marta Pucciarelli.
The data that is collected will be supplemented with the existing bibliography and be analysed by a group of researchers, including Aude Guyot, Serena Cangiano, Emanuela Fanny Bonini Lessing, Marilyn Douala Bell, Didier Schaub, Ntone Edjabe, Davide Fornari and Iolanda Pensa, who will work alongside Isabella Rega, Roberto Casati, Lorenzo Cantoni, Edgar Pieterse, Simon Njami and Fernando Alvim. The project will also be assessed by a group comprising, amongst others, Tania Gianesin, Kim Gurney, Federica Martini, Adama Sanneh, Satomi Sugiyama and Lucia Tubaro. All of the material produced during the research has a Creative Commons - Attribution ShareAlike license.
The three day workshop was a valuable opportunity to discuss expectations, content and interfaces while defining some key concepts, such as: cities, recipients, indicators, purpose, process, impact and security. The definition of urban safety, which was one of the most challenging examples, was achieved through a series of elements that were able to provide a useful indication of urban safety while observing and describing transformations therein. With regard to public art a choice was made to restrict the research to permanent collections and temporary exhibitions which are part of cultural events or an institution's programme.
The idea of starting the research project with the creation of a methodology guide stems from the experience of African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K), which published its ACA2K Methodology Guide in 2008 with a Creative Commons share-alike license. The guide presented the research on a step-by-step basis, thus enabling others to apply or develop it. This example is in keeping with the spirit of Mobile A2K, which aims to produce content and interfaces on urban transformation by exploiting existing resources.