Open Data City
Leibniz Universität Hannover
Prof. Andreas Quednau
Benedikt Stoll
Lehrstuhl Städtebauliches Entwerfen

“Smart City” urban devel­op­ment concepts are crit­i­cised by many acad­e­mics because of the market-oriented poli­cies asso­ci­ated with them. In the spirit of Saskia Sassen’s “Open Source Urbanism”, they call for Big Data to be made publicly avail­able. The Open Data Strategy of the EU Commis­sion (2011) can be seen as a reac­tion to the data monopoly of global players like Google, Face­book & Co: According to this strategy, cities should make their data acces­sible and usable for everyone. If data is the gold of the 21st century, the role of plan­ners and archi­tects in the use of geodata must also be ques­tioned in order to develop cities sustain­ably in the future instead of pursuing tech­no­cratic approaches that ignore their polit­ical, economic and social implications.

“#FOLLOW ME: Open Data City” addresses the ques­tion of the respon­si­bility of plan­ners and archi­tects in rela­tion to Open Data. The seminar will develop spec­u­la­tive scenarios in which, on the one hand, publicly acces­sible data and, on the other hand, self-collected (geo)data are used as the basis for future urban devel­op­ment. The starting point is the mapping of one’s own digital foot­print within a month, which is traced with the help of Google Loca­tion History (Google Maps), a loca­tion of finan­cial expen­di­tures (Revolut credit card) and a health tracker (Well­tory) — i.e. all apps and “smart” devices that record (geo)data — true to Strava’s motto “Track and analyse every aspect of your activity”. The visu­al­i­sa­tion of mobility and activity profiles should not only help to a better under­standing of your own digital foot­print, but also to under­stand its envi­ron­mental and behav­ioural conse­quences. Based on this, the seminar will spec­u­late about the possi­bil­i­ties for “user-specific” urban devel­op­ment and how these data can be used for a more sustain­able plan­ning practice.

Google & Co can access our dynamic activity profiles (absolutely) without restric­tion in order to generate customer-specific adver­tising content and exor­bi­tant profits. What would happen if cities also had access to this (geo)data in order to carry out citizen-specific urban devel­op­ment? The core thesis of the seminar #FOLLOW ME: Open Data City states that in the long run, city plan­ners and city admin­is­tra­tions lose their core compe­tence to global corpo­ra­tions, which influ­ence our “user behav­iour” more than urban infra­struc­tures. There­fore, it is neces­sary to inves­ti­gate whether it is only by providing OPEN DATA and its collab­o­ra­tive analysis and exploita­tion with public welfare oriented bodies that it is still possible to develop cities sustainably.

Selected results of the seminar will be presented at the MAPPING FOR CHANGE Sympo­sium in Berlin on 16–18 January 2020. In addi­tion, the seminar will be distrib­uted as part of the project “Young profes­sionals design the future: Border­line City”. This will enable 3 selected students to partic­i­pate in a fully funded summer school from 08–15 May 20 in Berlin.