Tag Archives: mapping

Data and the City workshop, Session 4 videos

We’re back again with another set of papers from The Programmable City’s Data and the City workshop. These videos formed a wonderfuld opening session for the second day of the event.

Data Models and the City

Service Oriented Design and Polyglot Binding for Efficient Sharing and Analysing of Data in Cities

Pouria Amirian, Big Data Project Manager and Data Science Research Associate, University of Oxford

Nowadays successful and efficient management of a city depends on how data are collected, shared and transferred within and between various organizations in the city and how data analytics are used for extracting actionable insights for decision making. Since each organization use different platforms, operating systems and software for the above mentioned tasks, data sharing mechanisms should be provided as platform independent services. This platform independent services can then utilized by various users for different purposes. For example for research purpose of universities, for business purposes of industry and commercial companies, for improving the existing services by city council and related organizations and even for facilitating communication between people and policy makers. Platform independency is necessary quality of services for providing interoperability from technical point of view. The interoperability at various levels is an important requirement and vision for public services and it is well defined in initiatives like European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and many national interoperability frameworks. Based on the mentioned frameworks, exchange of data is an ultimate enabler for sharing information and knowledge between organizations.

In addition to platform independency, in order to make the services as resourceful as possible the services need to be designed based on certain principles. The principles for designing services are dependent on the type of applications and users of those services. This paper first describes the concept of service orientation and then explains three different approaches for sharing data and analysis in a city. Finally the paper suggest an architecture (Organizational Service Layer) to implement polyglot binding for flexible, scalable and interoperable implementation of services in a city.

Data About Cities: Redefining Big, Recasting Small

Michael Batty, Professor, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London

In this paper, we argue that the development of data with respect to its use in understanding and planning cities is intimately bound up with the development of methods for manipulating such data, in particular digital computation. We argue that although data volumes have dramatically increased as has their variety in urban contexts largely due to the development of micro devices that enable all kinds of human and physical phenomena to be sensed in real time, big data is not peculiar to contemporary times. It essentially goes back to basic notions of how we deal with relationships and functions in cities that relate to interactions. Big data is thus generated by concatenating smaller data sets and in particular if we change our focus from locations to interactions and flows, then data has faced the challenges of bigness for many years. This should make us more careful about defining what is ‘big data’ and to illustrate these points, we first look at traditional interaction patterns – flows of traffic in cities and show some of the problems of searching for pattern in such data. We then augment this discussion of big data by examining much more routine travel data which is sensed from using smart cards for fare-charging and relating this to questions of matching demand and supply in the context of understanding the routine operation of transit. This gives us some sense of the variety of big data and the challenges that are increasingly necessary in dealing with this kind of data in the face of advances in digital computation.

Putting Out Data Fires; life with the OpenStreetMap DWG

Jo Walsh, Registers of Scotland

OpenStreetMap is a collaborative map of the world, being made on a voluntary basis, and the Data Working Group is its dispute resolution service. Edit wars and tagging conflicts are not frequent, and are often dealt with on a community basis, but when they escalate unbearably, someone calls in the DWG. The DWG operates simultaneously as a kind of police force and as the social work arm of the voluntary fire service for OpenStreetMap. I have had the honour of serving on the DWG since November 2014, and will discuss how consideration several cases of active conflict in different cities worldwide, sheds some light on the different forces at work involved in putting together a collaborative map, and the ways in which people are personally affected. The tone of the paper will owe a little to Bruno Latour’s classic infrastructure detective story, “Aramis”.

Data and the City workshop, Session 3 videos

This set of videos make up the final session from the first day of the Data and City workshop. All of the videos from the event are available through our Vimeo account.

Data Analytics and the City

Improving the Veracity of Open and Real-Time Urban Data

Gavin McArdle, Researcher, National Centre for Geocomputation, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland

Within the context of the smart city, data are an integral part of the digital economy and are used as input for decision making, policy formation, and to inform citizens, city managers and commercial organisations. Reflecting on our experience of developing real-world software applications which rely heavily on urban data, this article critically examines the veracity of such data (their authenticity and the extent to which they accurately (precision) and faithfully (fidelity, reliability) represent what they are meant to) and how it can be assessed in the absence of quality reports from data providers. While data quality needs to be considered at all aspects of the data lifecycle and in the development and use of applications, open data are often provided ‘as-is’ with no guarantees about their veracity, continuity or lineage (documentation that establishes provenance and fit for use). This allows data providers to share data with undocumented errors, absences, and biases. If left unchecked these data quality issues can propagate through multiple systems and lead to poor smart city applications and unreliable ‘evidence-based’ decisions. This leads to a danger that open government data portals will come to be seen as untrusted, unverified and uncurated data-dumps by users and critics. Drawing on our own experiences we highlight the process we used to detect and handle errors. This work highlights the necessary janitorial role carried out by data scientists and developers to ensure that data are cleaned, parsed, validated and transformed for use. This important process requires effort, knowledge, skill and time and is often hidden in the resulting application and is not shared with other data users. In this paper, we propose that rather than lose this knowledge, in the absence of data providers documenting them in metadata and user guides, data portals should provide a crowdsourcing mechanism to generate and record user observations and fixes for improving the quality of urban data and open government portals.

Blockchain City: Spatial, Social and Cognitive Ledgers

Chris Speed, Chair of Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh

City dashboards are typically representations of a city’s accounts, manifest according to values set by the stakeholders. The currency of the data within a dashboard is typically reduced to an assessment of the performance of services largely derived from quantitative sources. As a consequence, dashboards cannot describe many of the transactions that take place between people, nor can they make explicit the values that are brokered between the myriad of city occupants. Whilst such information displays may be useful for mayors to report on the performance of a local government, or use it to set targets that lead to penalties or bonuses, the city dwellers that are complicit in the production of data are not able to convert the information back into a currency that can inform their actions and transactions.
This paper explores the barriers that current representations of data present for building new currencies through which value may be mediated at the level of the city dweller. By reflecting on the potential of technologies such as a ‘block chain’, the paper asks: if you change the representation of value, can it change the values that you can represent?

The blockchain is a public ledger of all of the transactions that have ever taken place using the Bitcoin currency. The ledger is constantly growing in a linear manner as ‘blocks’ are completed through the recording of transactions. A copy of the blockchain exists not in one place like the transactions of a traditional bank, but across the network of nodes in the Bitcoin system. This decentralised framework offers not only a form of transparency to prevent fraud but also a potential platform through which different values can be represented.

This paper speculates on the implications for the city of the near future as services begin to adopt blockchain technology. The paper reflects on the activities of the technology startup community who have an understanding of the principles of blockchain technologies through their adoption of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Via studies of various applications of blockchain technology across these groups, the paper will examine how emerging practices could transform our existing conceptions of value and money. The paper foresees the opportunities for the blockchain to change the way that value flows across the city, and hence lead to new economic and social models for city services.

Beyond quantification: a role for citizen science

Muki Haklay, Professor of Geographic Information Science, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London

When approaching the issue of Smart Cities, there is a need to question the underlying assumptions at the basis of Smart Cities discourse, and especially to challenge the prevailing thought that only efficiency, costs and productivity are the most important values. We need to ensure that human and environmental values are taken into account in the design and implementation of systems that will influence the way cities operate and governed. While we can accept science as the least worst method to accumulate human knowledge about the natural world, and appreciate its power to explain and act in the world, we need to consider how it is applied within the city in a way that does leave space for cultural, environmental and religious values. The paper will argue that a specific form of collaborative science – citizen science and community science – are especially suitable for making smart cities meaningful and democratic.

Mapping, Data & Urban space – Reading Seminar w/Matthew Wilson

You are invited to participate in our Reading Seminar with Dr. Matthew W. Wilson on Mapping, Data and Urban space, as part of our Launch event. Dr. Wilson (Harvard University and University of Kentucky) focuses his research on the intersection of critical human geography and geographic information science, as part of an evolving research agenda in ‘critical GIS’.

The following are the articles.  If you cannot get copies contact Tracey.Lauriault at NUIM.ie

  1. Wilson, Matthew W. 2012. Location-based services, conspicuous mobility, and the location-aware future. Geoforum. 43:6. p. 1266-1275.
  2. Wilson, Matthew W. 2011. Data matter(s): legitimacy, coding, qualifications-of-life. Environment & Planning D: Society & Space. 29:5. p. 857-872.

Time: 14:00 – 16:00, Monday, 24th March
Venue: Room 2.31, 2nd Floor, Iontas Building, North Campus, NUI Maynooth (Map)

ProgCity Launch reading seminar