Beta Blocks

Supernormal is part of a collaborative effort to help define Boston's approach to the smart city paradigm.

Beta Blocks is a block-level technology experimentation zone and civic process that encourages communities to invent, adopt, and adapt urban technologies to become relevant to their lives. An inflatable pavilion serves as a portal for local data interaction and exploration before and during technology deployments.

Funded by the Knight Foundation, and in collaboration with the Emerson Engagement Lab and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Supernormal is developing a civic learning and experimentation process through which Boston communities, with the support of the City and partnership from the private sector, are lead participants in the exploration, testing and evaluation of urban technology in their neighborhoods. This process, its civic value system, and the temporary structures that embody its presence in Boston’s neighborhoods, is called Beta Blocks.

Urban technology is already here, in forms that include urban sensors and data-driven decision making. In Beta Blocks, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that Boston’s urban technology evolution is deeply rooted in shared and equitable civic values. By establishing a framework that enables effective collaboration among communities, the technology sector, and city government, we aim to ensure that communities have a seat at the table from the very beginning, and that the tech sector is empowered to create technologies that are optimally relevant to its real user base.


The City of Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics


In progress

Project Team

Supernormal: Elizabeth Christoforetti, Nathan Fash, and Yuri Vishnevsky

Engagement and Lead Consultant: Emerson Engagement Lab