Andrés Domínguez's profile

Andrés Domínguez

SPS Department

Science, Technology & Innovation Studies

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+44 (0) 1316514274

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1.61 Old Surgeon's Hall

High School Yards

Edinburgh, UK


Andrés is an engineer by training with experience in the telecommunications industry before turning to science and technology policy and research. He completed his studies in Technology and Innovation Management at the University of Queensland which then led him to work in public sector innovation. He was later director of technology transfer in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in Ecuador where he liaised with actors from the industry and academia to establish links for technology and knowledge transfer. Currently, he investigates the involvement of users in the construction of decentralised data infrastructures drawing on studies of infrastructure and a combination of online and offline methods. Andrés has been a member of the Ethics and Governance Action Group at the University of Edinburgh’s Internet of Things initiative from 2017 to 2019.


PhD. Science and Technology Studies (2016-2020)

MSc. (by research) Science and Technology Studies (2015-2016)

MSc. Technology and Innovation Management (2012-2013)

Eng. Electronics and Telecommunications (2004-2005)

Awards and Funding

NTNU Center for Technology and Society, Visiting Research Grant 2020

Visiting Research Fellow at the Weizenbaum Institut, Research group 6: Responsibility in the Internet of Things

Senescyt Excellence Universities Scholarship 2015-2019

Research Interests

Social Shaping of Internet and Society Internet Studies Internet of Things Users Innovation Studies Ethics and Governance of IoT Responsibility Responsible Innovation Platform Society

Research Activities

Research and drafting of principles and procedures within the Ethics and Governance Action Group at the University of Edinburgh's IoT initiative.

Qualitative research on "Sensing Infrastructures" for CANDID (Checking Assumptions aND promoting responsibility in smart Development), a EU2020 project exploring the future of smart technologies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Teaching Experience

Tutor in Design Informatics Projects

Teaching assistant in Internet, Society and Economy

PhD Title

Distributed infrastructuring and innovation: An ethnographic enquiry of dispersed work in an internet of things ecosystem

PhD Supervisors

Prof. Robin Williams

Dr. James Stewart

PhD Overview

Emerging low-power wireless technologies are being used for a range of data-intensive applications such as asset tracking, smart agriculture, smart cities and environmental monitoring. The relatively low costs of certain hardware components, modular network architectures and open standards are allowing a diversity of actors to engage with the construction of ‘internet of things’ networks and solutions. This thesis explores an unusual mode of building data infrastructures in a decentralised fashion and with a strong reliance on dispersed contributors. Various branches of research within management, design, critical theory, feminism and science and technology studies (STS) have dealt with the questions of how and why users get involved in practices surrounding innovation and have extensively explored collaborative modes of technology development.  Some of these approaches drew on (now-classic) case studies of free and open-source software, particular consumer products, and various examples of internet-enabled collaboration, yet there is very scant empirical and theoretical work around contemporary data-oriented sociotechnical formations. At the same time, policy roadmaps concerning the rise of pervasive data infrastructures rely largely on industry-oriented analyses and quantitative macro-level forecasts and hence fail to engage adequately with the various forms of involvement of different actors in innovation. Building on an STS-inflected framework this thesis contributes to bridging this gap with an account of dispersed innovation and infrastructure-building work from a micro-level perspective.

This thesis aims to scrutinise the case of The Things Network, a global internet of things initiative based on low-power wireless technology. The initiative is far removed from traditional top-down public or commercial technology development strategies and faces a range of challenges and dilemmas related to organisation, sustainability and implementation. The study is concerned with the questions of how geographically dispersed actors become involved and sustain their contributions; how they align and coordinate their work; why/how contributors organise and operate local networks; how/whether control is exerted from network architects; and how uneven forms of involvement are implicated in the generation of innovation. The methodology selected revolved around a multi-site ethnographic exploration over two and a half years with practitioners contributing variously to the construction of software, hardware and physical infrastructure within the initiative.

The analysis draws on infrastructure studies and the social learning perspective on innovation. First, the evolution of the initiative is traced throughout the stages of bootstrapping, scaling up and global expansion. A taxonomy of the universe of contributing actors is outlined based on the range of motivations and types of social formations in the ecosystem. Second, building on an infrastructural view of the internet of things, the analysis foregrounds the work performed by core and peripheral actors and the challenges involved with decentralisation. The concept of ‘distributed infrastructuring’ is proposed as a means to capture the piecemeal work of disparate and dispersed actors operating autonomously towards a common infrastructure goal. Third, the processes of scaling up and generating products and services are elucidated and a model of innovation as cycles of social learning is sketched. Finally, the wider practical and theoretical implications of the case are discussed in light of the findings of the study. The analysis suggests that this mode of infrastructuring is symptomatic of a trend towards an increasing fragmentation and distribution of innovative practices among a range of actors. The proposition is that policy and practice would benefit from a departure from the prevalent user/designer binary to a more nuanced vocabulary in line with the diversity of forms of involvement in innovation.

Silvast, Antti, Robin Williams, Charles Raab, Andrey Elizondo, Andres Dominguez, Kjetil Rommerveit, Alessia Tanas, and Niels van Dijk. 2017. “Promoting Responsible Designs and Users in Smart Grid Projects.” Deliverable D2.2, no. CANDID Scientific Publication (November).

Domínguez, A., Klein, E., Raab, C., Stewart, J., submitted for review. Ethical and Responsible Internet of Things: The Edinburgh Initiative 1, 24.