What Can Engineering Systems Teach Us About Social (In)Justices? The Case of Public Transportation Systems

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Politicians, consultants and engineers develop public transportation systems using a variety of well-developed and established modeling tools to calculate different aspects of a system. Some of them are performance-capacity against investment models to determine the value of a given technical choice. Others are economic models to calculate the feasibility of the system, the distributed benefits across population groups and the possibility of providing improved access to special users. These models are regarded as “rational” and thus morally neutral. However, recent research has demonstrated that the implicit assumptions and even the specific ways of estimating different constants to value input data in these models shape the results in ways that perpetuate social injustices built in the urban landscape of our cities. This chapter analyses the case of the design of Transmilenio in Bogotá, a public mass transportation system coined as one of the most progressive on the planet. Part of a political discourse to improve social justice in Bogotá, the project is successful in many respects but falls short of the original aims in many other respects. The chapter describes how the “rational modeling” brought in at various stages in the process hides social injustices under the veil of neutrality. This chapter, thus, calls to engineers to become critically aware of how they can influence systems modeling in ways that are more socially just.
TitelEngineering Education for Social Justice : Critical Explorations and Opportunities
RedaktørerJuan Lucena
ForlagSpringer Science+Business Media
ISBN (Trykt)978-94-007-6349-4
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-94-007-6350-0
StatusUdgivet - 2013
NavnPhilosophy of Engineering and Technology