Measuring the City: The Power of Urban Metrics

The rising tide of urban data is transforming the field of urban planning. Studies utilizing cell phone data, social network service data, sensors, and satellite imageries have opened up new avenues of inquiry to quantify the built environment and model formerly hidden human mobility dimensions. Despite the myriad ways to synthesize this newly available information through the lens of city planning, the act of shaping cities remains a political gesture often legitimized through the use of data. 

The purpose of this volume is to initiate a discussion on the interplay between the epistemology of urban data, data-driven measurements, and the politics of designing urban places. In particular, this volume aims to 1) critically evaluate the nature of the urban data that is ceaselessly generated; 2) investigate how the understanding of city life is being fundamentally reshaped through data-driven models and measurements; and 3) demonstrate how these models interface with real-world politics of urban design in cities.