Civic Data + Civic Participation
Le Dantec, Christopher
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Smart cities and digital democracy have begun to converge and create opportunities to enact new civic imaginaries. Much of the momentum behind these efforts derives from computing’s promise of improved efficiency derived from the application of data to familiar problems. However, data are social, whether through the act of collecting them, to marshaling them for argument and advocacy, or by being acted on by them. Data-based civic participation, then, is about attending to the ways data do social work for us, how our stories become data, and how data tell stories. One way in which I am currently exploring these issues is through a project that enlists cyclists in Atlanta to record their rides and share that data with the City. These traces inform the creation of public polity and create an opportunity to participate in new forms of civic labor and advocacy. This project is one of several I am currently working on to explore the data ecosystems that emerge at the intersection of digital democracy and smart cities.