A virtual panopticon in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic: The case of location-based mobile application 'Hayat Eve Sığar'

Tükenmez B., Karakaş B.

Urban Assemblage: The City as Architecture, Media, AI and Big Data , London, England, 28 - 30 June 2021, vol.25, pp.58-66

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 25
  • City: London
  • Country: England
  • Page Numbers: pp.58-66


Based on Jeremy Bentham's panopticon design (1785) as the architectural manifestation of surveillance, Foucault theorizes how modern societies are built upon the relationship between power and knowledge operated by surveillance, self-regulation, and participation. With the development of information and communication technologies, these power and surveillance mechanisms expand beyond the spatial boundaries. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the measures against the disease such as tracing, quarantine, and especially virtual surveillance to provide order and discipline for the public health with the citizens' compliance create panopticon-like organizations. With the locative media and surveillance, exemplified by the mobile application called 'Hayat Eve Sığar' (literally translated as 'life fits into home'), which is a part of the official precautionary measures against the Covid-19 disease in Turkey to trace and isolate the diseased, surveillance mechanisms become a binary system incorporating physical and virtual spaces. The 'Hayat Eve Sığar' application tracks the health statuses of the individuals and residences like the panopticon cells and shares the necessary information to protect the public. It transforms the perception and interpretation of space through the mediation of information and communication. In this regard, this study aims to investigate the intersections and ambiguity between information and surveillance, security and control, physical and virtual, urban places and electronic spaces, the public, and private spheres.