Tag Archives: critical data studies

Special issue: Data-driven Cities? Digital Urbanism and its Proxies | Tecnoscienza

A new issue of Tecnoscienza edited by Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy, Sung-Yueh Perng (all of the Progcity project) and Laurie Waller has just been published, titled: “Data-driven Cities? Digital Urbanism and its Proxies”. Contents are:


Data-driven Cities? Digital Urbanism and its Proxies: Introduction PDF
Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy, Sung-Yueh Perng, Laurie Waller 5-18


The Realtimeness of Smart Cities PDF
Rob Kitchin 19-42
Ordinary Smart Cities. How Calculated Users, Professional Citizens, Technology Companies and City Administrations Engage in a More-than-digital Politics PDF
Ignacio Farías, Sarah Widmer 43-60


The Urban Stack. A Topology for Urban Data Infrastructures PDF
Aaron Shapiro 61-80
Discovering the Data-driven City. Breakdown and Literacy in the Installation of the Elm Sensor Network PDF
Darren J. Reed 81-104
How to Design the Internet of Buildings? An Agile Design Process for Making the Good City PDF
David Hick, Adam Urban, Jörg Rainer Noennig 105-128
DIO: A Surveillance Camera Mapping Game for Mobile Devices PDF
Rafael de Almeida Evangelista, Tiago C. Soares, Sarah Costa Schmidt, Felipe Lavignatti 129-150


Rethinking the Spaces of Standardisation through the Concept of Site PDF
James Merricks White 151-174

Crossing Boundaries

Data Platforms and Cities PDF
Anders Blok, Antoine Courmont, Rolien Hoyng, Clément Marquet, Kelton Minor, Christian Nold, Meg Young 175-220

The politics and praxis of urban data: 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.

CfP – Calculated Spaces: small data, big data, open data and data infrastructures

2015 Conference of Irish Geographers (CIG)

Queens University Belfast, 21-24 May 2015.

Themed session:

Calculated Spaces: small data, big data, open data and data infrastructures

The promise of big and open data and data infrastructures is for greater evidence based decision making, informed policy, and efficient management.  As mobile devices, wearables, UAVs/Drones, webcams, and sensors become more accessible and distributed in terms of cost, size and useability, it is assumed, that the ‘neutral facts’ derived from these ‘democratized technologies’ will lead to the production of objective and politically neutral models of places and spaces.  Also, combining these data with those collected by GPS, satellite and radar with transaction (i.e. loyalty & swipe cards) and social media data and with framework data such as street networks or political boundaries, will lead to the perfect calculated model of the world.  Finally, there is the dream of cloud storage liberating the data from geography with ‘free’ and ‘open’ platforms yet geo-fencing persists.

We hope submissions will include critically reflections on some of the following: the ‘politically neutral’ production of objective space, technological determinism, data driven managerialism, the social shaping effects of technology and data, technocratic governance, and data assemblages (Kitchin 2014).  Also, on the implications of algorithmic, mathematic and geometric modelling of spaces and places, social physics, the ontologies of ontologies (Hacking 2012), the politics of portals and 3rd party platforms and the geopolitics of data storage and global infrastructures.  Also how do small, data, and open data and data infrastructures transduce spaces and places (Kitchin, 2014, Dalton and Thatcher 2014, Kitchin and Lauriault 2014).  The objective of this session is therefore to interrogate the epistemological and ontological issues raised by data and infrastructures and to discuss their social, ethical, legal and political implications.

We welcome papers that explore the above and some of the following questions:

  1. Has the proliferation of data and related infrastructures led to more technocratic forms of governance, managerialism and predictive governance?
  2. Have VGI, counter mapping, citizen science and participatory mapping been critically reflexive about the technologies used to collect the data they produce?  Are these truly democratic and objective processes?
  3. While we become better at counting, classifying, sharing, archiving and visualizing, and are offered platforms to do so what kind of spaces and places are we creating?
  4. How to balance the instrumental use of data collection technologies, which inform science while also normalize sousveillance, dataveillance, and surveillance?
  5. How might data and their related data collection technologies contribute to sustainability, resilience and planning?
  6. Is it possible to balance commercialization, public good, and ethics with big data, open data and data infrastructures?

Potential contributors should liaise with the session organiser prior to submission of their abstract on the conference website.  Contact email: Tracey.Lauriault@NUIM.ie

The CIG is organized by The Geographical Society of Ireland and the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, and will be held at Queens University Belfast are delighted to host the 47th Conference of Irish Geographers that will take place 21-24 May 2015.

All sessions are listed in this PDF Document:

New Paper: Towards Critical Data Studies: Charting and Unpacking Data Assemblages and Their Work

Rob Kitchin and Tracey Lauriault have just published the second Programmable City Working Paper – Towards Critical Data Studies: Charting and Unpacking Data Assemblages and Their Work. It is a pre-print of a chapter written for the book, Geoweb and Big Data, edited by Joe Eckert, Andy Shears and Jim Thatcher, to be published by University of Nebraska Press.

The growth of big data and the development of digital data infrastructures raises numerous questions about the nature of data, how they are being produced, organized, analyzed and employed, and how best to make sense of them and the work they do. Critical data studies endeavours to answer such questions. This paper sets out a vision for critical data studies, building on the initial provocations of Dalton and Thatcher (2014). It is divided into three sections. The first details the recent step change in the production and employment of data and how data and databases are being reconceptualised. The second forwards the notion of a data assemblage that encompasses all of the technological, political, social and economic apparatuses and elements that constitutes and frames the generation, circulation and deployment of data. Drawing on the ideas of Michel Foucault and Ian Hacking it is posited that one way to enact critical data studies is to chart and unpack data assemblages. The third starts to unpack some the ways that data assemblages do work in the world with respect to dataveillance and the erosion of privacy, profiling and social sorting, anticipatory governance, and secondary uses and control creep. The paper concludes by arguing for greater conceptual work and empirical research to underpin and flesh out critical data studies.

Key words
big data, critical data studies, data assemblages, data infrastructures, civil liberties

Short presentation on the need for critical data studies

At the recent Conference of the Association of American Geographers held in Tampa, April 8-12, I was asked to be a discussant on a set of three sessions concerning geographers engagement with big data.   The first session was a general intro panel to big data from a geographical perspective, the second panel consisted of a set of a dozen or so short lightening talks (no more than 5 mins each) about each speaker’s on-going research, and the third panel presented some demos of practical approaches researchers are making to harvesting, curating and sharing big geo-data.

Rather than focus my discussion on the individual comments, papers and demos, I reflected more broadly on the presentations, which I felt had been overly focused on one particular kind of big data, namely social media, with a little crowdsourcing thrown in, and had done so from a standpoint that was overly technical or quite narrowly conceived in conceptual terms. My argument was that we need to help develop, along with other social science disciplines, critical data studies (a term borrowed from Craig Dalton and Jim Thatcher) that fully appreciate and uncover the complex assemblages that produce, circulate, share/sell and utilise data in diverse ways and recognize the politics of data and the diverse work that they do in the world.  This also requires a critical examination of the ontology of big data and its varieties which extend well beyond social media to include various forms of digital and automated surveillance, techno-social systems of work, exhaust from digital devices, sensors, scanners, the internet of things, interaction and transactional data, sousveillance, and various modes of volunteered data.  As well as a thorough consideration of its technical and organisational shortcomings/issues, its associated politics and ethics, and its consequences for the epistemologies, methodologies and practices of academia and various domains of everyday life.  I concluded with a call for more synoptic, conceptual and normative analysis of big data, as well as detailed empirical research that examine all aspects of big data assemblages.  In other words, I was advocating for a more holistic and critical analysis of big data.  Given the speed at which the age of big data is coming into being, such analyses in my view are very much needed to make sense of the changes occuring.

For another reflection on the sessions see Mark Graham’s comments on Zero Geography.

Rob Kitchin