Launching the Knowledge Lab Urban Big Data Rotterdam

27 09 2015

Last thursday, September 24, we launched our knowledge lab Urban Big Data (click here for our website, in Dutch), a collaboration of Erasmus University with the city of Rotterdam and Creating 010 of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. We discussed if and how the data city changes the everyday experiences of its citizens and what kind of privacy challenges they would encounter. There were a number of flash presentations of current data usage in the city, for the purpose of economic investment, environmental monitoring, city marketing, social prevention and public health. Throughout the day the following things became clear, and we will develop our research and project agenda on the basis of these first lessons:

  1. Rotterdam and other city governments have a wealth of different data about a range of aspects of the city. The data themselves may not be big, the overall data landscape certainly is;
  2. Within the city administration shared knowledge about the data that different sections collect and use, and data and/or analytic exchange can be improved;
  3. Data in the social and economic domains are collected through traditional methods, surveys and registrations in particular, and cannot be considered ‘big’;
  4. ‘Big’ data are mainly used in city operations (environment, infrastructure, etc.);
  5. The paradigm for data collection, big or small, is still very much top-down based on the policy-led identification of KPIs;
  6. There is currently underuse of bottom-up data produced by urban private and semi-private (corporate and individual) stakeholders;
  7. It is usually hard for city administration to get access to these private data, with the exception of social media data for which the city uses Coosto;
  8. There is currently also underuse of the open data provided by the City of Rotterdam;
  9. The collection, analysis and useful presentation of city data is extremely labor intensive and expensive, and require long term programmatic planning and funding; in contrast many data-activities are set up as projects;
  10. City administrators are deeply concerned by the way their data usage may transgress privacy boundaries and legislation;
  11. City administrators are also concerned about the ongoing push of ICT companies to adopt the company’s specific data- and ICT solutions.
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