Customers, users or citizens? Inclusion, spatial data and governance in the smart city

How much does our spatial data tell the city about us, and how is that likely to change in the next decade? This was the central question of the recently-finished, one-year Maps4Society research project From Data Subjects to Data Producers, conducted at the University of Amsterdam.The project studied the use and governance of spatial data in Amsterdam’s smart city projects and focused on resident groups normally not included and accounted for in Smart City research projects.

You can download the report of their research here: Customers, users or citizens?

The researchers approached groups of people who may be marginalised or challenged by increasing visibility due to the use of big data in the future smart city. They interviewed various groups including immigrants, children, sex workers, opt-outs who choose not to use smart technologies, and technology developers.

In these exchanges, people spoke about their experiences of their personal ‘datasphere’, their level of awareness about how they might be tracked and monitored, and how comfortable they were with it. They also debated the kind of consultation they would like to see as citizens of a smart city, and how they felt about the increasing interaction between the city and private-sector partners around digital data.

This report – Customers, users or citizens? – outlines how smart city projects are collecting and using data, how systems are developing to inform citizens of about it. It presents a social roadmap for the datafied city’s future, and makes recommendations for how city data governance can become more inclusive and responsive.

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