Big Data in the City: Exploring Notions of Design and Agency






Royal College of Art, London


25 Jan 2016

Smart cities are increasingly under scrutiny for their top-down controlling and monitoring mechanisms, and are criticised for serving neoliberal agendas. This is a consequence of ‘smart’ systems using algorithms to help inform decision-making aimed at increasing the efficiency of urban processes. But who is in control of the ‘smart city’? Who decides what data is aggregated, and who designs the algorithms? What questions are asked in analysing the data? Should designers engage in this process, and how?

In this one-day symposium we  explored these questions and discussed notions such as data in urban design, ‘smart cities’, civic empowerment and (the power of) algorithms. A variety of speakers from both academia and practice are invited to speak about these topics from different fields of expertise: Alison Powell (LSE), Diana Tanase (RCA), Mike Saunders (CEO Commonplace) and Léan Doody (Arup).


Photography by Sophie Cunningham


Graphic design by Karimah Hassan