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Introduction to article on steering the real-time city through urban big data and city dashboards?

05 July 2016
Smart cities, innovative cities and intelligent cities are concepts of growing interest to the EU, the OECD and the United Nations as well as large companies such as IBM. The URBACT programme itself has previously funded a ‘Smart Cities’ project led by the City of Coimbra, Portugal; and
undertaken research into open data as part of its capitalisation programme – including a case study on the Irish Dublinked open data project.
 
 
According to Wikipedia, a ‘smart city’ is an urban development vision the objective of which is to integrate multiple information and communication
technology (ICT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – including for example transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs.
 
In this article, Prof. Rob Kitchin of Maynooth University discusses the emergence and growth of smart city agendas in Ireland – and the role of dashboards in both visualising open and shared data and allowing city managers to monitor how a city is performing at particular points in time and
 
govern it accordingly. The article draws on research being undertaken as part of ERC-funded Programmable City Project. According to its website, http://progcity.maynoothuniversity.ie/about/this project is investigating “the relationship between networked digital technologies and infrastructures and urban management and governance and city life. In particular, it is concerned with how cities are increasingly being translated into code and data, and how these code and data are being used to transduce how we understand, manage, work, and live in the city and to produce ‘smart cities’”.
 
Dashboards, we find out, are but one tool that can be used to visualise open and real-time data; and while it has its shortcomings, there is undoubtedly a strong case for such tools in the management of places. In this article, Prof. Kitchin draws particular attention to the Dublin Dashboard (see
http://www.dublindashboard.ie/pages/index) and the work of the design team in establishing a balance between the utility of dashboards and their limitations.
 
This article provides us with a refreshing insight into the world of big-data and dashboards – and the pros and cons offered by each.
 

 

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