Questions are raised by The Economist as to what use is all this data – some wonder wonder is it not just another way to embed control and power and other whether it means anything at all – just more utopian dreams which will fall by the wayside – so much more archived felled trees and crowded cloud space?
A deluge of data makes cities laboratories for those seeking to run them better
NO FACE looks alike, but human bodies and their genetic make-up are almost identical. Cities too have distinctive charms—but are surprisingly alike behind their façades. Regardless of size, their populations grow at the same average rate everywhere in the world. A city twice as large as its neighbour is likely to be 15% richer. The mix of green space and built-up areas tends to be equal everywhere.
Such findings reflect a recent shift in urban research. Better technology has turned cities into fountains of data that confirm known regularities and reveal striking new patterns. This could transform how cities are regarded, built and managed. Attempts to contain urban sprawl, long the prevailing paradigm of urban planning, for instance, could fall out of favour. Cities could be run with the sort of finely tuned mix of technology and performance associated with Formula 1 racing cars
A more comprehensive review of these data driven technologies can be seen on Pop-Up Cities post
Data-Driven Urban Citizenship
With networked infrastructures mixing with physical fabric of the cities (check out iPavement, paving tiles with embedded microcomputer), there is a gradually growing body of urban data. Often this data is not collected or not stored. Often it is stored without being shared. A steady trickling out of this urban data, however, is taking place through open data platforms and various public-private data partnerships. While there emerges a political demand for rights regarding networked objects (see Adam Greenfield and Bruno Latour and Near Future Laboratory), a range of products, services and platforms are coming up that offer to enrich citizenship with accessible and visualised data.
The everyday citizenship in urban areas is increasingly augmented by all kinds of incoming data visuals — map of ‘every bus trip’ in the city, possibilities of using the same data to pre-empt congestion and resolving them by diversifying traffic, geographic spread of different languages used to tweet across the city, crime landscape of the cities (and of course you remember Crimespotting by Stamen), catching criminals by real-time data mining, visualisation of energy and resource intensities of your city, and exploratory platform for historical visuals and documents embedded on the city map.