The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards

27 Pages Posted: 23 May 2015

See all articles by Rob Kitchin

Rob Kitchin

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Maynooth University) - NIRSA

Sophia Maalsen

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of the Built Environment

Gavin McArdle

University College Dublin (UCD) - UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics

Date Written: May 21, 2015

Abstract

This paper critically reflects on the building of the Dublin Dashboard -- a website that provides citizens, planners, policy makers and companies with an extensive set of data and interactive visualizations about Dublin City, including real-time information -- from the perspective of critical data studies. The analysis draws upon participant observation, ethnography, and an archive of correspondence, to unpack the building of the Dashboard and the emergent politics of data and design. Our findings reveal four main observations. First, a dashboard is a complex socio-technical assemblage of actors and actants that work materially and discursively within a set of social and economic constraints, existing technologies and systems, and power geometries to assemble, produce and maintain the website. Second, the production and maintenance of a dashboard unfolds contextually, contingently and relationally through transduction. Third, the praxis and politics of creating a dashboard has wider recursive effects: just as building the dashboard was shaped by the wider institutional landscape, producing the system inflected that landscape. Fourth, the data, configuration, tools, and modes of presentation of a dashboard produce a particularised set of spatial knowledges about the city. We conclude that rather than frame dashboard development in purely technical terms, it is important to openly recognize their contested and negotiated politics and praxis.

Keywords: assemblage, dashboard, data, Dublin, politics, smart city

Suggested Citation

Kitchin, Rob and Maalsen, Sophia and McArdle, Gavin, The Praxis and Politics of Building Urban Dashboards (May 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2608988 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2608988

Rob Kitchin (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Maynooth University) - NIRSA ( email )

2nd Floor
Iontas Building
Maynooth, County Kildare
Ireland

Sophia Maalsen

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of the Built Environment ( email )

4007 The Red Centre
Sydney, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Gavin McArdle

University College Dublin (UCD) - UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland

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