Tag Archives: data

Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal – Lifelogging: Challenges and Opportunities in a new era of Personal Data

On May 27th 2015, Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal visited the Programmable City Project and delivered a seminar on lifelogging, covering the history of creating lifelogs, technological developments in the field, the current state of the practice and future possibilities for comprehensive personal data.

The talk was extremely well received, and this video of the event should be of interest to anone interested in lifelogging, the quantified self, personal or wearable technologies or the emergence and possibilities of personal data.

Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal – Lifelogging – Challenges and Opportunities for a new era of personal data from The Programmable City on Vimeo.

You can also listen to the audio recording of the discussion afterwards on issues around privacy, surveillance and more here:


New paper: The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards

A new working paper by Rob Kitchin, Sophia Maalsen and Gavin McArdle – The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards – has been published on SSRN as Programmable City Working Paper 11.  The abstract runs thus:

This paper critically reflects on the building of the Dublin Dashboard — a website that provides citizens, planners, policy makers and companies with an extensive set of data and interactive visualizations about Dublin City, including real-time information — from the perspective of critical data studies. The analysis draws upon participant observation, ethnography, and an archive of correspondence, to unpack the building of the Dashboard and the emergent politics of data and design. Our findings reveal four main observations. First, a dashboard is a complex socio-technical assemblage of actors and actants that work materially and discursively within a set of social and economic constraints, existing technologies and systems, and power geometries to assemble, produce and maintain the website. Second, the production and maintenance of a dashboard unfolds contextually, contingently and relationally through transduction. Third, the praxis and politics of creating a dashboard has wider recursive effects: just as building the dashboard was shaped by the wider institutional landscape, producing the system inflected that landscape. Fourth, the data, configuration, tools, and modes of presentation of a dashboard produce a particularised set of spatial knowledges about the city. We conclude that rather than frame dashboard development in purely technical terms, it is important to openly recognize their contested and negotiated politics and praxis.

Download the paper

dubdashboard may 15

Industrial Heritage: Software enabled preservation of dispersed and fragile knowledge in miniature.

Developments in software and digital technology have had wide ranging impacts on our leisure time, from movies on demand on our mobiles, internet on public transport and the ‘selfie’  saturated world of social media. Yet advancements in technology have also reached creative activities that are often considered far from mainstream and groups of individuals, who though they share a common interest, may pursue their leisure activity individually and in relative isolation.

One such social group is that of model railway enthusiasts. For these collectors, builders and hobbyists the developments in software have enabled fundamental changes to the way they explore and express their interests.  Geographically dispersed and relatively few in number (estimated in the low hundreds in Ireland) software has offered a means of augmenting the traditional physical locations of interaction, socialising and knowledge sharing. Software and connectivity have enabled a network of online interactions that has linked individuals more closely with the commercial suppliers and the specialist manufacturers of the models they consume, extending the reach of the community beyond the traditional clubs or shows. It has facilitated efficient access to, and the sharing of, previously inaccessible or unknown historic and practical knowledge regarding even the most obscure topics such as window size and seat positions.  Building upon more traditional sources of historic data such as printed media and journals, software has also enabled the capture of dispersed and divergent forms of data and facilitated their transformation, via computerised production methods, into ready-to-run models with unprecedented levels of physical detail and functionality. Continue reading

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:

Nathaniel Tkacz – Dashboards and Data Signals

On Wednesday 8th October 2014, Nathaniel Tkacz visited the Programmable City Project and delivered a seminar on “Dashboards and Data Signals”. Nathaniel is Assistant Professor in CIM at The University of Warwick. He is currently Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded project ‘Interrogating the Dashboard’. He is author or editor of Wikipedia and The Politics of Openness, The MoneyLab Reader (forthcoming 2015), Digital Light (forthcoming 2014) and Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader.

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.

Interactive city benchmarking sites

Over the past few years there have been a proliferation of city benchmarking indexes and data tools that enable the comparison of different phenomenon across cities.  A recent Jones Lang LaSalle report details 150 of them.  Such indexes are composed of composites of key indicators and are proported to give an indication of city performance vis-a-vis other locales and to judge how city administrations and policies are fairing.  Below are some links to some interactive city benchmarking sites that allow the comparison of selected cities.  Our interests in such benchmarking is in the politics of indicator selection and the formulation of indices, and how the data are employed, a topic that we’ve just started to examine on the ProgCity project.

NYC Global Innovation Exchange: http://www.nyc.gov/html/ia/gprb/html/global/global.shtml


OPENCities Monitor: http://www.opencities.eu/web/index.php?monitor_en

Siemens Green City Index: http://www.siemens.com/entry/cc/en/greencityindex.htm
Intercultural City Index: http://www.culturalpolicies.net/web/intercultural-cities-charts.php

Smart cities index (mid-size cites , 100-500K population): http://www.smart-cities.eu/benchmarking.html

Brookings GlobalMonitor: http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/global-metro-monitor-3

McKinsey Urban World: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_world


LSE European Metromonitor: http://labs.lsecities.net/eumm/m/metromonitor