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Big Data in the City: Exploring Notions of Design and Agency

25 January 2016 | 11am – 4pm

Kensington, Lecture Theatre 1

Smart cities are increasingly under scrutiny for their top-down controlling and monitoring mechanisms, and are criticised for serving neoliberal agendas. This is a consequence of ‘smart’ systems using algorithms to help inform decision-making aimed at increasing the efficiency of urban processes. But who is in control of the ‘smart city’? Who decides what data is aggregated, and who designs the algorithms? What questions are asked in analysing the data? Should designers engage in this process, and how?

In this symposium we will explore these questions and discuss notions such as data in urban design, ‘smart cities’, civic empowerment and (the power of) algorithms. A variety of speakers from both academia and practice are invited to speak about these topics from different fields of expertise:

11am – 12pm Alison Powell (LSE)
Data Citizenships: Value and Participation in Data Cities

12–1pm  Diana Tanase (RCA)
From Big Data to Decision-Making: the Algorithmic Path

2–3pm  Mike Saunders (CEO Commonplace)
Big Subjective Data: Perceptions and Places

3–4pm  Léan Doody (Arup)
Designing with Data: Shaping our Future Cities

This symposium is hosted by Saba Golchehr, Research Associate and PhD student at the School of Architecture and researcher on the EU Marie-Curie Multi-ITN project TRADERS (‘Training Art and Design Researchers in Participation for Public Space’). In her PhD, Saba is exploring the democratisation of data mining in the design of public spaces.