Urban Data Analytics as Research Topic, Method and Ethical Concern

Daniel Trottier, Jay Lee, John D. Boy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Local and global business interests assemble images of neighbourhoods from localised knowledge, including disparate forms of public data such as reviews, blog posts, and open data from municipalities and other organisations. (In)visible forms of working with and worrying about neighbourhood data can be understood as an engagement with the neighbourhood’s reputation, or rather its symbolic trajectory: a set of tangible and intangible indicators through which an urban space is known and treated accordingly over time. This paper addresses ethical concerns that emerge from contemporary datafied urban ethnography. We consider a combination of large-scale and bespoke, quantitative, and qualitative analyses of available sources with sustained ethnographic engagement with a Dutch neighbourhood coping with a troubled reputation. While the latter activities can mitigate ethical issues stemming from the former, ethnography in turn raises further concerns of exploitation and risk exposure and should not be treated as a kind of ‘ethical panacea’ for big, open, or public data projects. A multifaceted and interrogative approach to data collection may offer a more rounded account of contemporary urban data practices by drawing upon distinct and possibly conflicting accounts of social life. The challenge is to prioritise under-represented and otherwise marginalised voices in both the design and the dissemination of research on urban data analytics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-328
Number of pages18
JournalDigital Culture & Society
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

This research was funded by a grant from the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities

Research programs

  • ESHCC M&C

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