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  • Video
  • 5 minutes

How data is making our cities smarter

Updated Tuesday, 24 July 2018
Data research may lead to more efficient, sustainable and democratic societies says Gillian Rose, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Oxford.

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Recorded at The Open University for BBC Radio 4's sociological discussion programme, Thinking Allowed.


Data is a significant part of technological life and has made the news recently due to breaches, misuse and new legislative regulations. For smart city planners, an individual's data is often not very useful - big data which amalgamates individual activities looking for patterns is far more relevant. Smart city tech companies are interested in the overview, not in being bogged down looking at individuals. But that doesn’t mean that this individual data ceases to exist.

Though some smart cities have central data hubs for data which is shared, other data is collected and used by small and large companies and local and national government too. It’s a fragmented landscape. As smart city technologies become increasingly common, new debates will need to take place about the usage and storage of the data the smart city is based on.

Do we trust those collecting data about us to store it securely? What if we don’t want to be individually identified? Will it ever be possible to remove ourselves from this global dataset, if we should wish to do so in the future? 


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