Journal Article
The data politics of the urban age

The deployment of myriad digital sensors in our physical environments is generating huge amounts of data about the natural and built environments and about ourselves, social relations, and interactions in space. These unprecedented quantities of data combine with high-performance computers to produce a series of increasingly powerful tools ranging from mathematical modeling on a massive scale to various types of artificial intelligence. Within this context, urban planning and design driven by data and predictive tools have been gaining traction. This scientific approach to urban problems echoes the nineteenth-century birth of modern urbanism, when rapid industrialization and new scientific methods were advocated against a traditional beaux-arts approach to city planning; and the twentieth century proved that such scientific methods were politically charged. Arguing that we are facing a similar breakthrough in urban studies and planning, in this paper we discuss how data-driven approaches can foster urban studies, but must be balanced with a critical view to the inherent social values of cities.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDuarte F., Álvarez R.
JournalPalgrave Communications (Nature)
Volume5
Issue54
Abstract

The deployment of myriad digital sensors in our physical environments is generating huge amounts of data about the natural and built environments and about ourselves, social relations, and interactions in space. These unprecedented quantities of data combine with high-performance computers to produce a series of increasingly powerful tools ranging from mathematical modeling on a massive scale to various types of artificial intelligence. Within this context, urban planning and design driven by data and predictive tools have been gaining traction. This scientific approach to urban problems echoes the nineteenth-century birth of modern urbanism, when rapid industrialization and new scientific methods were advocated against a traditional beaux-arts approach to city planning; and the twentieth century proved that such scientific methods were politically charged. Arguing that we are facing a similar breakthrough in urban studies and planning, in this paper we discuss how data-driven approaches can foster urban studies, but must be balanced with a critical view to the inherent social values of cities.

URLhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-019-0264-3
DOI10.1057/s41599-019-0264-3