DATA TO THE PEOPLE
Hybrid City is an international biennial event dedicated to exploring the emergent character of the city and the potential transformative shift of the urban condition, as a result of ongoing developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and of their integration in the urban physical context. It aims to promote dialogue and knowledge exchange among experts drawn from academia, as well as researchers, artists, designers, advocates, stakeholders and decision makers, actively involved in addressing questions on the nature of the technologically mediated urban activity and experience. The second installment of the Hybrid City, that took place in 2013 boasted seven keynote speakers, sixty-eight paper presentations and diverse parallel events, that were documented in the printed volume of proceedings.
Hybrid City Conference 2015 in Athens, Greece will consist of three days of paper presentations, panel discussions, workshops and satellite events, under the theme “Data to the People”. The events are organized by the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC), in collaboration with New Technologies Laboratory, of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, of the University of Athens. The main venue of the conference is the central, historic building of the University of Athens, while workshops, projects’ presentations and parallel events will take place in other University venues and collaborating centers and institutions, in the center of Athens.
reciproCITY – from data to ta-da!
The harvesting of data from citizens, communities and buildings is a contemporary obsession. It is a concern that the desire to build real-time data models should so strangely mimic the historical preoccupation with building traditional architectural models. The history of vaulting ambition in urban planning is littered with photographs of the architect, town planner and City Mayor looming over a balsa wood and card model of the future. The sense of distance, dominance and control is tangible. And this history is being recycled in Smart Cities all over the planet.
Definition of data in English:
da·ta \ˈdā-tə, ˈda- also ˈdä-\
Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis:
“Data is a precious thing…” (Berners-Lee, T.)
1: factual information (such as numbers or symbols) used to make decisions, inform policy or calculate solutions
2: Facts are simple and facts are straight. Facts are lazy and facts are late. Facts all come with points of view. Facts don’t do what I want them to. Facts just twist the truth around… (Byrne, D. Eno, D. et al)
3: Numerical values generated by a sensor, such as environmental or biological monitor.
4: ta-da spelt backwards (see ta-da)
Mid 17th century (as a term in philosophy): from Latin, plural of datum.
Most cities are littered with data sets, trapped in preparatory software and a variety of incompatible formats. Before meaningful modelling can commence there is usually a need for a significant data archaeology, cleansing and standardisation through a rigorous curatorial process. Or maybe it is simpler to forget the past and start the harvest afresh. Either way data is useless without effective analytics.
It is extremely difficult to see patterns and relationships in diverse data sets. The coupling of qualitative and quantitative data is problematic and even the interpretation of correlations between disparate data sets is challenging, often requiring, either hypothesis driven or good old fashioned intuitive decision making.
In addition to the easily measurable metrics and indices, the social and economic, a more holistic approach to capturing the intangible impacts of civic activity, such as mood, feelings, participation and engagement is needed. These qualitative metrics provide real-time feedback on how the City ‘feels’ and have the potential to encourage a greater democratic engagement and reciprocity between stakeholders.
Complex data analytics such as hotspot detection, correlation of data sets, sentiment analysis and analytical models based on modern integrative, sub-symbolic, computational techniques (Artificial Neural Networks, Self-Organising Maps and Deep Learning Networks) need to be deployed to generate new meaning from human urban behaviour. Primarily used in robotics and the complex analysis of economic data, these techniques offer great potential for the social and cultural sector to better understand and utilise qualitative and quantitative data, offering new analytical and predictive methods and tools which could assist in enhancement of reciprocal democratic processes, planning and engagement. Some kind of magic.
Definition of ta-da in English:
exclamation / interjection
“abracadabra, ta-da!” (Houdini, H.)
1: A simulated trumpet fanfare (typically to emphasise an extraordinary entrance, point or revelation.) Often following a dramatic build up and complemented by jazz hands and an exclamation mark.
2: data spelt backwards (see data)
Mid BC (possibly predates the invention of the trumpet): from Latin, plural of ta-datum.
Some kind of alchemy, a different kind of model. With a focus on real-time analytics and processes for directly engaging individuals and communities, this presentation zooms in on the little bits and bytes of data, the smiles, nods, “hello’s” and “thankyou’s”, the myriad of micro transactions that calculate in real-time the value (- &+) of a social urban landscape.