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Progress in Data-Driven Urban Sustainability

Authors: Robin Basalaev-Binder*, McGill University, David Wachsmuth, McGill University, School of Urban Planning, Kevin Manaugh, McGill University, Department of Geography
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: dashboard, urban sustainability, decision-making, data-driven, open source
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As urban sustainability has largely been data-driven, digital technologies have consequently been increasingly incorporated into city governments, organizations, and urban solutions more generally, becoming ubiquitous in their application and our dependence on them (Greenfield 2006; Mattern 2015). This article examines sustainability dashboards - online digital platforms using a data-driven approach to visualize and communicate sustainability-related information - through the lens of smart cities and its inherently positive view of technology in addressing sustainability (Jong et al. 2015; Luque-Ayala and Marvin 2015; Lyons 2018). In particular, it links the rise of dependence on technological approaches to sustainability to dashboards as the concretization of the smart cities imaginary. Dashboards can be seen as the tangible manifestation of what the smart cities discourse implicitly encompasses. Existing sustainability dashboards mirror the smart cities discourse, with heavier emphasis on the quantifiable components of sustainability. Dashboards themselves can be categorized into six themes, spanning a range of objectives. Existing initiatives use primarily static or simplified interactive platforms to visualize static data, and a gap exists when it comes to real-time data visualization reflecting complex issues. Sustainability dashboards have the potential to more accurately represent and better engage urban residents through participation and transparency in order to harness the momentum surrounding technologically based approaches to sustainability for public good.

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