Data Action: Using Data for a Public Good

Authors: Sarah Williams*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethics and Justice , Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Big Data, Urban Planning, Participatory GIS, Community, Data, Citizen Science, Critical Cartography, Participatory Action Research, Mapping, Data Visualization
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Data Action presents a corrective to standard data practices by acknowledging that data represents the ideologies of those who control its use. This talk will describe Data Action, a methodological framework, which asks advocates of big data analytics to rethink how they work with data to make the process more responsive to the people their work affects. By centering trust and co-ownership in the data analysis, the “Data Action” principles allow for a creative process that involves building, analyzing, communicating results, and then ground-truthing the findings through site visits and interviews—thus reworking the analytics based on the input all along the way. Collaboration with policy experts, government, designers, and the public is essential to the “Data Action” approach: the results generate policy debates, influence civic decisions, and inform design solutions to help ensure that the voices of people represented in the data are neither marginalized nor left silent “Data Action” is a call to action that asks us to rethink our methods of using data to improve or change policy and to empower local communities. By showing that humans are often at the center of data analytics projects. Through narratives of projects that embody the “Data Action” principle this talk will illustrate the ways we can use data for a tool for empowerment rather than oppression.

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