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Peopling cities of technology and big data: towards a citizen urban science

Authors: Harvey Neo*, Singapore University of Technology and Design, CP Pow*, National University Of Singapore
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Development
Keywords: citizen science, urban science, urban studies, city
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The acceleration of data generation has led some to believe that the world can now be understood in dramatically different and productive ways. More importantly, the distinct urban bias in both the people generating the data, and the places about which (and within which) the data are produced have given rise to a new orthodoxy—“urban science”—in understanding cities. Proponents of urban science, on the back of “big data” and technological interventions, are gaining ground in shaping the study of cities and urbanization processes in recent years. What is big data, and as it propels urban science research, will it reproduce the same fatal shortcoming of past quantitative revolutions in diminishing human agency? If so, how then can citizens be meaningfully involved in urban science? Relatedly, how can researchers who lean towards qualitative approaches contribute to urban science research? Finally, how should policy makers make sense of urban science? These questions will be answered (a) via a sympathetic critique of the urban science paradigm; (b) by deliberating, through various urban-technological innovations, the potential of citizen urban science. Case studies will be drawn from Southeast Asian cities to illustrate the argument.

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