Big Data voor kwetsbare groepen

11 12 2017

Een van de belangrijkste doelen van ons BOLD Cities netwerk is om ‘big data’ en nieuwe data science technieken in te zetten om de positie van kwetsbare groepen in de samenleving te verbeteren. We doen bijvoorbeeld onderzoek naar de vraag of we met intelligente koppeling van CBS en gemeentelijke data in staat zijn om te voorspellen welke strategie voor welke uitkeringsgerechtigde het meest effectief is om weer aan het werk te komen. Marieke Knoef van de Universiteit van Leiden, en een van onze onderzoekers op dit project, gaf er een mooi interview over aan het vakblad voor leidinggevenden in het sociale domein. Lees het onder deze link: .


BOLD Cities: Show us the data award

30 11 2017

Tuesday November 28 marked the climax of the Centre for BOLD Cities’ Show Us The Data contest, in which designers and artists were invited to creatively contribute to the visibility of data in the city. Co-sponsored by Bouwend Nederland, the grand jury prize of €2500 was awarded to graphic design student Gianni Ritchie, whose ‘what-if’ concept My Data App was considered most impressive. See here for the full work: click

Second-prize winner Laurens Kolks surprised by entering a physical object; a Smart City Souvenir in the form of a mug that connects the digital to the physical city. Furthermore, two honourable mentions were given their deserved moment in the spotlight: Konstanze Winter and Ruben Smits participated with a video of a WiFi network name poem, and WE ARE DATA contributed by sharing their Mirror Room – an installation that is designed to immerse its participants in the overwhelming possibilities of data collection.

The Show Us The Data award ceremony was hosted by ScienceWorks at their conference on data-driven policy in The Hague. BOLD Cities’ academic director Liesbet van Zoonen awarded the prizes on behalf of her team, and promised all winners that their valued input may well be called upon by the Centre in the near future.

An impression of the entries on our shortlist can be found in this video (in Dutch): click here.


Building BOLD Cities

12 07 2017

BOLD Cities, the research center that the Universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam (Erasmus) so generously funded last year, is thriving. We have developed a research agenda that combines our different expertise and which is focused on using ‘big data’ for pressing urban social issues. In all our projects we have a data science aspect and a data ethics aspects, which mostly means that apart from crunching massive and different kinds of data about people, we also involve these people in the research process and integrate their concerns in our outcomes. A first set of projects that I am really proud of concerns the usage and linkage of registration, survey and social media data to improve the municipal services to vulnerable groups in the city, in particular people on benefits, young NEETs (not in education, employment or training) and the working poor. We have received funding for these projects from two national funding agencies (ZONMW, NWA/NWO)and from the cities of Rotterdam and The Hague. A second set of projects is about the way people inhabit the digitized and datafied city. We focus on privacy as a situated and spatial experience in the city, and we also try to put data literacy and data empowerment on the agenda. We have taken several groups of civil servants on a walking tour through their city, and are currently developing a project aimed at children and adolescents. We do this in collaboration with grants and researchers of the city of Rotterdam, all channeled through the Knowledge Lab Urban Big Data.  Thirdly, we are developing work around the urban living labs hausse, interrogating both their practical and the discursive arrangements and questioning in which domains they can really make a difference for urban cohesion and inclusion. All in all, we currently have a group of 4 funded PhD candidates and 4 postdoctoral researchers in the Erasmus branch of BOLD Cities, and an increasing number of affiliated senior staff. It is a great score to start the summer break with.  For more details see:

Reporting the data walks

26 05 2017

I am extremely happy that Bang the Table, an Australian specialist in digital engagement invited us to write a short piece about our data walk

Bang the table aims at improving the quality of public debate and level of community involvement in public life and hence is a natural partner for our work in BOLD Cities towards the data-empowerment of city users and city makers. The article is called ‘Seeing more than you think’: a data walk in the smart city and one of the conclusions we draw is that we have not found a way yet to define data-empowerment as a collective issue rather than as an individual one. We therefore have introduced the ideal of a SHARED smart city. See my post of January 13 this year, and the full article for more detail: 

Rotterdam Lecture coming up

5 05 2017

It is an incredible honor to have been selected to hold the annual Rotterdam Lecture, a gift of Erasmus University to the city in which one of its top academics discusses a pressing urban issue. I will talk about our quickly expanding smart city research, especially about the question what the digitized and datafied developments in the city mean for ordinary citizens and civil servants. In Dutch this produces a nice alliteration of ‘burgers’ and ‘bestuurders’. The lecture will take place in the Arminius Church in Rotterdam and starts at 20.30. It is completely in Dutch and more information, including a registration button, is here [click].

Artistic research and policy

2 04 2017

Our graduate school has a structural collaboration with the Rotterdam School for Circus, Dance and Music (Codarts), and we help about 6 to 7 of their staff to do their PhD research. It is part of the wider Codarts policy to stimulate artistic research and part of our policy to be a key partner for the knowledge ambitions of the Rotterdam area.  As part of Codarts yearly research days, I held a keynote about artistic research, focusing particularly on the challenges you encounter when you want to articulate ‘artistic’ with ‘academic’. There are so many varieties of research that one could embrace as an artist, but when you chose for ‘academic’ you run into tensions between, among other things, making and writing; tacit and formalized knowledge; or intuitive versus rule-based procedures. Nevertheless, for both art and academia the connection is inspiring and useful leading, possibly, to both a wider underpinning of arts practices and a more innovative agenda for academic research. My full presentation is online [click here].

One of the possible drawbacks of the increasing importance of academia in arts education and practice, is that the already limited possibilities for people from working class and/or lower education backgrounds may decrease even further. Is there still room for the working class artist? In the UK there is already some concern about the middle and upper class dominance in the arts sector [see here], and it is a phenomenon that sounds familiar in the Dutch context as well. Diversity (also and importantly with respect to ethnicity, gender and disability) is one of the key goals for the UK Arts Council who claim there is a ‘Creative Case for Diversity’ [see here] and in Dutch cultural policy this has been embraced in the form of a Code for Cultural Diversity [see here]. I am happy and proud that I will be able to contribute to cultural diversity in my new role, from April 1, as member of the Dutch ‘Raad voor Cultuur’ [see here].


Examinations: politicians in talkshows, Japanese characters

2 04 2017

I examined two PhD theses last month, both of them solid cultural and media studies. On March 14, Birte Schohaus of Groningen University defended her thesis Entertaining politics, seriously? She studied Dutch TV talkshow formats and analysed how producers and politicians negotiate the affordances of the format to, respectively, make and appealing program and communicate a political message. The thing I liked best about her work was her explanation of the situated rules that enable the performance of authenticity. More info and a link to the full dissertation can be found here [PDF]. Quite a different thesis was defended by Ruobing Han of Leiden University on March 21. She described The “Characterization” of Japan, in particular how characters like Pikachu or Hello Kitty have become means for merchandising, political campaigning and international country branding. I knew little about the so-called ‘cutification’ of Japan so was happy to read more about it. More info and a link to the full dissertation can be found here [PDF].