智慧城市是許多城市領導者的誘人前景。即使您沒有聽說過，也可能已經通過查看您的手機上的巴士移動，在線訪問市政府的服務或了解空氣污染水平。通過在城市基礎設施中插入傳感器並創建新的數據源 – 包括通過其移動設備的公民 – 智能城市管理人員可以應用大數據分析來以新的方式監測和預測城市現象，因此，論點是有效地管理城市活動’智慧的公民’的好處。
居民們知道數據很少是中立的。收集的數據種類，使用的方法，如何解讀，被忽略的內容，生成的內容以及由誰制定的內容，以及由此產生的結果都是成為塑造事實的選擇。對於構建大數據城市平台的專家來說，一個平方的一個傳感器只是一個數據點。然而，在另一方面，居民們將這些數據與廣場上豐富的生活息息相關。人類學家Clifford Geertz 在很多年前就認為，情況只能通過“thick description”才有意義。應用於智慧城市，沒有理解數據內容是如何被生成和解讀的話，這意味著數據無法真正被解釋和使用。數據只有在社會意義變得濃厚時才能發動人們，改變事物。
The Smart City is an alluring prospect for many city leaders. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you may have already joined in by looking up bus movements on your phone, accessing Council services online or learning about air contamination levels. By inserting sensors across city infrastructures and creating new data sources – including citizens via their mobile devices – Smart City managers can apply Big Data analysis to monitor and anticipate urban phenomena in new ways, and, so the argument goes, efficiently manage urban activity for the benefit of ‘smart citizens’.
Residents were learning that data is rarely neutral. The kinds of data gathered, the methods used, how it gets interpreted, what gets overlooked, the context in which it is generated, and by whom, and what to do, as a result, are all choices that shape the facts of a matter. For experts building Big Data city platforms, one sensor in one square is simply a data point. On the other side of that point, however, are residents connecting that data to life in all its richness in their square. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz argued many years ago that situations can only be made meaningful through ‘thick description’. Applied to the Smart City, this means data cannot really be explained and used without understanding the contexts in which it arises and gets used. Data can only mobilize people and change things when it becomes thick with social meaning.
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