Big urban data new cities summit 2013 video

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As some readers of this blog might recall I participated in the New Cities Summit earlier this year as one of the panelists discussing Big Urban Data. Below is a video recording of the full session, which turned out to be a very interesting discussion that continued throughout the rest of the conference. For those of you who don't have an hour to spare (not all of you work at research departments, I suspect :), below the video you'll find a summary of the brief that I submitted before the summit describing what I intended to talk about.

(For a full summary of the summit, please have a look at the e-book summary at

Mobile devices (smartphones and feature phones), and other kinds of connected things (vehicles, public transport systems, and many more) are fantastic "probes" into the real world. The data from these devices and the networks through which they connect can be utilised in many interesting ways. This opens up for a fantastic opportunity for innovation, not only for the authorities and businesses, but in particular for the citizens themselves. This should not be about giving citizens what they want from a top down perspective though. Individuals and communities are experts on their own context as in defining their specific problems and opportunities. They are also very skilled in finding solutions, something that can be of outmost value for themselves as for the city as a whole. Access to data could potentially play a very exciting role in this, especially since data is just bits just like an invisible fabric that covers the city, that can be made useful with rather small means. In order to achieve this it is quite likely that we have to start to think about various kinds of activities that will make citizens (and other actors) with very different skill sets (some might be highly educated while others are illiterate) able to utilise data in order to address their specific needs.

When talking about these opportunities, we also need to be very humble about the issue of privacy, something that we will have to look at from many perspectives. Privacy is a constantly changing topic that is influenced by numerous factors, and as many before me have pointed out it's very context dependent. This is something that I believe many different stakeholders must be involved in – including the citizens, authorities, businesses, to mention but a few. Without jumping to any conclusions, I believe it's safe to say that at this point in time all of us active within the ICT domain need to be involved in an open, transparent discussion about this, with the ambition to listen and learn from each other.

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