Rob Kitchin and Gavin McArdle have published a new Programmable City working paper (no. 21) – Urban data and city dashboards: Six key issues – on SocArXiv today. It is a pre-print of a chapter that will be published in Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T.P. and McArdle, G. (eds) (forthcoming) Data and the City. Routledge, London..
This chapter considers the relationship between data and the city by critically examining six key issues with respect city dashboards: epistemology, scope and access, veracity and validity, usability and literacy, use and utility, and ethics. While city dashboards provide useful tools for evaluating and managing urban services, understanding and formulating policy, and creating public knowledge and counter-narratives, our analysis reveals a number of conceptual and practical shortcomings. In order for city dashboards to reach their full potential we advocate a number of related shifts in thinking and praxes and forward an agenda for addressing the issues we highlight. Our analysis is informed by our endeavours in building the Dublin Dashboard.
Earlier today Rob Kitchin presented a paper jointly written with Gavin McArdle and Sophia Maalsen at the Association of American Geographers meeting in Chicago titled: The politics and praxis of urban data: Building the Dublin Dashboard. The submitted abstract is below, along with the powerpoint slides. Hopefully the full written paper will be published as a working paper shortly.
This paper critically reflects on the building of the Dublin Dashboard (www.dublindashboard.ie) from the perspective of critical data studies. The Dashboard is a website that provides citizens, planners, policy makers and companies with an extensive set of data and data visualizations about Dublin City, including real-time information, indicator trends, inter and intra-urban benchmarking, interactive maps, the location of services, and a means to directly report issues to city authorities. The data used in the Dashboard is open and available for others to build their own apps. One member of the development team was an ethnographer who attended meetings, observed and discussed with key actors the creation of the Dashboard and its attendant praxis and politics up to the point of its launch in September 2014. This paper draws on that material to consider the contextual, contingent, iterative and relational unfolding of the Dashboard and the emergent politics of data and design. In so doing, it reveals the contested and negotiated politics of smart city initiatives.
A new open access paper – ‘Knowing and governing cities through urban indicators, city benchmarking and real-time dashboards’ – based on research from the Programmable City project has just been published in the journal Regional Studies, Regional Science. Below is the abstract. Click here to download the full PDF. The paper forms an anchor to a small forum on the topic, with responses from Mike Batty, Matt Wilson, and Meg Holden & Sara Moreno Pires. Continue reading →
On dashboards and data signals, Nathaniel summarised his discussion as: Screen interfaces that aggregate and visualise flows of data, namely, dashboards, are greatly increasing in number and function. They coincide with the heightened interest in information visualisation and massive claims about the transformative power of big data. David Cameron has a bespoke dashboard, as does US Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen. For the rest of us, there are a range of dashboard apps available from Apple or Google’s respective markets. The control screens one would expect to see in a Bloomberg Terminal, flight control tower or security operation – that is, in strategic and logistical spaces – is today becoming generalised and individualised. As is true of all interfaces, a dashboard is a relation. It is a relation of control, to be sure, and one that equally reflects a desire for control among the ‘data deluge’ as much as it does its achievement. But a closer look at the dashboard reveals much more than the proliferation of control. It can tell us, for example, about the changing nature of indicators, the everyday experience of data-driven life, and emerging forms of rationality, and it is these things that I will explore in this presentation.
The Programmable City team delivered four papers at the Conference of the Association of American Geographers held in Tampa, April 8-12. Here are the slides for Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T. and McArdle, G. (2014). “Urban indicators, city benchmarking, and real-time dashboards: Knowing and governing cities through open and big data” delivered in the session “Thinking the ‘smart city’: power, politics and networked urbanism II” organized by Taylor Shelton and Alan Wiig. The paper is a work in progress and was the first attempt at presenting work that is presently being written up for submission to a journal. No doubt it’ll evolve over time, but the central argument should hold.