Data as a commons for Smart City

The technological revolution humanity went through these past decades brought many things, (as I mentioned in my past blog) some of them good, some of them bad. One of said changes was the great value data acquired, the speed in which data is generated and the capacity to store it. Data now is worth money and it represents advantages for those who have access to it, so there are several people collecting it, analyzing it, keeping it secret, selling it and even stealing it.

In my past blog I wrote about how social sciences should keep up with technology development, now I know there is people speaking about this. I ran across this Manifesto in favour of technological sovereignty and digital rights for cities, which states a series of values, beliefs, goals and actions to serve, as they state on their website, as an open source Policy Toolkit for cities to develop digital policies that put citizens at the center and make Governments more open, transparent, and collaborative.

One of the beliefs of the manifesto, is that “Open City Data is a necessary element of technological sovereignty and must be managed and provided in an ethical, transparent, accessible and sustainable manner.” I think this is a key for the optimal development of a Smart City. Citizens should have the right to have access to the data generated with their participation and should feel responsible for using it to contribute to their community.

It is not as simple as making all data public, citizens are supposed to be as smart as the city they live in, this is not easy to achieve since inequality is always present in a society. Certain data can mean nothing to a less educated while the more educated ones could take advantage of others through analysis of that data. But some data is collected and kept as private by certain companies but would make a greater good by being public.

I found an open book I liked a lot called The Hackable City where it was asked Who Owns the Data of the Smart City? The response was “In terms of real ownership, it might be reasonable to say that no one owns a data commons. That is why no individual is empowered to sell to another that thing over which they are the steward.” And I think that pretty much sums all up. We should be all co-proprietaries of the data generated from our actions and in our city, but no one should have the right to profit from it.

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Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

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