Data-driven Cities? Digital Urbanism and its Proxies: Introduction

Claudio Coletta, Liam Heaphy, Sung-Yueh Perng, Laurie Waller


Abstract: If ‘big data’, ‘smart cities’ and ‘data-driven cities’ are merely useful buzzwords, they nevertheless evidence an expanding chatter of heterogeneous voices who are merging with and reshaping the urban environment. This introduction addresses the data-driven city by focusing on the concept of proxy to articulate its multiplicity. We then provide an overview of the contributions included in this special issue, highlighting how they account for the particular sites where relations are made between knowledge practices, infrastructural developments and administration and management. Rather than take a stance with respect to particular definitions of the data-driven city – or its more commercial inflections as ‘digital urbanism’ or the ‘smart city – in this special issue we suggest there is value for urban research to draw on STS approaches in attending to the sociotechnical fuzziness of data as it falls between epistemological problems, material infrastructures and organizational concerns. We conclude by suggesting possible directions for further research.

Keywords: data-driven cities; proxies; open data platforms; citizenship; technical democracy.

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