The myth of “dataism” and the construction of citizen-centered cities

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished abstract


For the last decade, there has been a rise in the idea that data might be the solution for a more objective and effective public sector, based on it, cities have become “smart” increasing dramatically the control, classification, and prediction of citizens' actions. In order to create improved machine learning systems, there has been an increase in public-private partnerships, generating new power relations.
Data accumulation does not equal citizen participation or citizen-centered cities. It only means that every single action in a city can be transformed into data and stored, so eventually, it can be used for the purposes of the public administration. This per se causes a series of consequences that affect constitutional rights, social rights, and data privacy rights, since individuals are constantly being surveilled and every single act is “datafied” and transformed into a number.
In this context, when the public sector aims to deliver better services, they often regard citizens as consumers that demand better solutions to old problems, yet governments do not consider citizens as stakeholders when implementing smart technologies in cities. At an initial stage, frequently citizens are not taken into consideration, instead of politicians and public servants “step into their shoes”.
Consequently, the participation of citizens happens at a later stage of the implementation of smart cities, usually after the idea of a device is already developed and the solution is also presented to them. This, late participation does not embody the diversity of society and the different opinions, ideas, and solutions that might come from them. Instead, it reflects the perception of a few of what society wants and needs, causing a gap between the public sector and society, transforming citizens into disempowered data generators.
Thus, this proposal aims to discuss "the myth of dataism" and how this disempowers individuals by transforming them into data generators at the same time it aims to point out some solutions to increase citizen participation when implementing smart city solutions. These solutions may start with how public policy is designed and goes into data minimization as a tool for individual control of data and privacy solutions.
Originele taal-2English
StatusUnpublished - 30 sep 2022
Evenement1st Democracy & Digital Citizenship Conference Series - Roskilde Universiteit, Roskilde, Denmark
Duur: 29 sep 202230 sep 2022


Conference1st Democracy & Digital Citizenship Conference Series
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