Tag Archives: governance

Seminar – The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation

We are delighted to welcome Dr. John Danaher to Maynooth on Monday 2nd November at 3pm, Iontas Building room 2.31 for the first of our Programmable City seminars this semester.

Dr. John Danaher is a lecturer in Law at NUI Galway. His research interests lie, broadly, in the areas of philosophy of law and emerging technologies and law. In the past, he has published articles on human enhancement, brain-based lie detection, the philosophy of punishment and artificial intelligence. He maintains a blog called Philosophical Disquisitions, and he also writes for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

The session will introduce the topic of algorithmic decision-making, exploring the issues related to use of such decision-making in the public sphere is problematic and to how it affects the moral and political legitimacy of the decision-making process.

ProgCity_Seminar_3_1_JohnDanaher

Data and the City workshop, Session 5 videos

The final set of papers in the Data and the City workshop were a great way to end to a fantastic event. The full catalogue of videos are listed on our Project Videos page and can be found through our Vimeo account. Thanks again for all the attendees for making this year’s workshop such a resounding success.

Data Issues

Smart City, Surveillance City: human flourishing in a data-driven urban world

David Murakami Wood, Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies, Department of Sociology and Cross-Appointed in the Department of Geography, Member of the Surveillance Studies Centre, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Abstract
‘Smart cities’ are characterized by pervasive and distributed sensor networks generating big data for forms of centralized urban management, drawing together such previously unconnected infrastructural systems as video surveillance, meteorological stations, traffic lights and sewage systems. Although presented as largely civic, corporate and managerial, these schemes have a parallel history in military strategic thinking and policing, from crime mapping and predictive policing models, to new forms of urban warfare involving forms of distributed sensor platforms, and computer analytics, to enable forces to get a ‘clear picture’ of the complexities of the urban landscape and its inhabitants. In some cases, these have come together in overt ways, for example in the new ‘Domain Awareness’ initiatives in Oakland, California, and in New York which extends existing port security projects way beyond the military maritime ‘domain’ into the surrounding city and its governance.

Drawing on work in philosophy, science and technology studies, geography and surveillance studies, this paper considers the smart city as the archetypical urban form of the data-driven ubiquitous surveillance society. The paper considers the place of human rights in a broad sense, not simply privacy but also equity, access to services and justice, and ultimately, after Spinoza and Deleuze, the capacity of diverse human beings to flourish, in cities in which people are increasingly monitored, categorized and managed as logistical flows. It suggests some directions from the practices of bottom-up, citizen-centered city hacking initiatives and maker-spaces, but cautions that such practices are already subject to corporate capture and rebranding. The paper concludes that if smart cities are to be a way that big data can serve human flourishing, they need to be detached from narrow techno-economistic purposes and more truly refounded in social-ecological thinking, and this means dismantling many of the surveillance logics that underpin smart cities.

Michel Foucault and the smart city: power dynamics inherent in contemporary governing through code

Francisco Klauser, Assistant Professor, Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines Institut de géographie, Neuchâtel University

Abstract
Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s approach to power and governmentality, the paper explores the regulatory dynamics inherent in contemporary data-driven forms of regulation and management-at-a-distance of urban systems. More specifically, channelled through Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘security’, the paper portrays ‘governing through data’ not only as fundamentally reality-derived, relative and plural in scope and scale, but also as inherently flexible and fluid in aim and functioning. This in turn raises a series of critical questions with regard to the novel possibilities of differentiation and prioritisation, the actual adequateness, and the very implications of contemporary governing through data.

Empirically speaking, the paper focuses on the study of two high-profile pilot projects in Switzerland in the field of smart electricity management: iSMART and Flexlast. Both projects rely on massive efforts of data generation, interconnection and analysis, thus allowing the critical investigation of the rationales and problems inherent in the management of urban systems through data.

Crime Data and Analytics: Accounting for Crime in the City

Teresa Scassa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Abstract
Crime data are a record of incidents of crime. Such data are routinely compiled by police forces and feed into regional and national crime statistics. Crime data are relied upon in various narratives of crime in society. They are made selectively publicly available as open data and are also increasingly used in visualizations such as urban crime maps. Yet the nature of these data makes uncritical reliance upon them problematic. This paper explores the limits of crime data 21 the constraints on open data as crime data, and the deficiencies of visualizations of crime based on this data. It considers some of the practical, legal and institutional challenges of both expanding and improving these data.

New paper: Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary

Jim White’s paper, ‘Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary’, is available for download on the Social Science Research Network as Programmable City Working Paper 8.

Abstract

The smart city encompasses a broad range of technological innovations which might be applied to any city for a broad range of reasons. In this article, I make a distinction between local efforts to effect the urban landscape, and a global smart city imaginary which those efforts draw upon and help sustain. While attention has been given to the malleability of the smart city concept at this global scale, there remains little effort to interrogate the way that the future is used to sanction specific solutions. Through a critical engagement with smart city marketing materials, industry documents and consultancy reports, I explore how the future is recruited, rearranged and represented as a rationalisation for technological intervention in the present. This is done across three recurring crises: massive demographic shifts and subsequent resource pressure; global climate change; and the conflicting demands of fiscal austerity and the desire of many cities to attract foreign direct investment and highly-skilled workers. In revealing how crises are pre-empted, precautioned and prepared for, I argue that the smart city imaginary normalises a style and scale of response deemed appropriate under liberal capitalism.

Keywords: smart cities, the urban age, anticipation, risk

Download the pdf from the SSRN.

New paper: Data-driven, networked urbanism

A new paper, ‘Data-driven, networked urbanism’, has been published by Rob Kitchin as Programmable City Working Paper 14.  The paper has been prepared for the Data and the City workshop to be held at Maynooth University Aug 31th-Sept 1st.

Abstract

For as long as data have been generated about cities various kinds of data-informed urbanism have been occurring.  In this paper, I argue that a new era is presently unfolding wherein data-informed urbanism is increasingly being complemented and replaced by data-driven, networked urbanism.  Cities are becoming ever more instrumented and networked, their systems interlinked and integrated, and vast troves of big urban data are being generated and used to manage and control urban life in real-time. Data-driven, networked urbanism, I contend, is the key mode of production for what have widely been termed smart cities.  In this paper I provide a critical overview of data-driven, networked urbanism and smart cities focusing in particular on the relationship between data and the city (rather than network infrastructure or computational or urban issues), and critically examine a number of urban data issues including: the politics of urban data; data ownership, data control, data coverage and access; data security and data integrity; data protection and privacy, dataveillance, and data uses such as social sorting and anticipatory governance; and technical data issues such as data quality, veracity of data models and data analytics, and data integration and interoperability.  I conclude that whilst data-driven, networked urbanism purports to produce a commonsensical, pragmatic, neutral, apolitical, evidence-based form of responsive urban governance, it is nonetheless selective, crafted, flawed, normative and politically-inflected.  Consequently, whilst data-driven, networked urbanism provides a set of solutions for urban problems, it does so within limitations and in the service of particular interests.

Key words: big data, data analytics, governance, smart cities, urban data, urban informatics, urban science

Download PDF

New paper: Continuous geosurveillance in the smart city

A new paper by Rob Kitchin has been published in DIS Magazine as part of its fascinating ‘Data issue‘.  The paper explores the extent to which geosurveillance is becoming pervasive and routinised and the consequences of such geosurveillance with respect to civil rights and governance, and is accompanied by some original art by Mark Dorf (also used in the site banner above)  It starts thus:

“For the past couple of decades there has been a steady stream of analysis that has documented the ways in which the rollout of new digital and networked technologies have enabled increasingly pervasive and extensive forms of state and corporate surveillance. Such technologies have the capability to capture and communicate data about their use; simultaneously a wealth of sophisticated software has been developed that processes and acts on such data in automated, autonomous, and automatic ways. Importantly, the use of embedded GPS, sensors, and digital cameras are enabling location and movement to be tracked, facilitating extensive geosurveillance of people and places.

Continuous geosurveillance relies on the production of spatial big data, and in particular the notion of the “smart city” takes center stage, that is, urban landscapes that can be monitored, managed and regulated in real-time using ICT infrastructure and ubiquitous computing. Such instrumented cities are promoted as providing enhanced and more efficient and effective city services, ensuring safety and security, and providing resilience to economic and environmental shocks, but they also seriously infringe upon citizen’s privacy and are being used to profile and socially sort people, enact forms of anticipatory governance, and enable control creep, that is re-appropriation for uses beyond their initial design.

What follows is a consideration of the unfettered rush to create “smart cities” that is sensitive to the risks involved in extensively monitored urban landscapes. Are too much data about people and places being generated by public and private institutions and used to profile, sort, and sift in pernicious ways? In the rush to create smart cities is the privacy and freedom we expect in liberal democracies being eroded? Perhaps most alarming, are we creating cities that represent the interests of a select group of corporations and technocrats, rather than producing ones that represent the best interests of all citizens? ….”

Dreaming about the Cloud in rural Ireland

Late last week I, and many others I would presume, were left further behind in the digital era at the stroke of a pen. What my monthly bill cheekily termed broadband was officially no longer! In fact I never really had broadband to begin with, reliant as I am on ancient lines of copper which valiantly struggled to connect me to a quaint legacy telephone exchange deep in rural Wexford. Often it has proven more useful as an indicator of wind speed than a delivery method of zeros and ones, with wind-generated friction on the line reducing those precious few minutes of 1.2 Mbps connectivity still further on stormy evenings. Well in the US the telecoms watchdog, the FCC, has just raised the bar on what can officially be labelled as broadband, state-side at least, by redefining the minimum download speed at 25 Mbps. I can but dream! Continue reading