Data for all

The weekly topic was Data as a commons for Smart City. When I think about a common, normally I think in a good common and as something that is for the benefit or interests of all. There are a lot of applications that daily retrieves a lot of data of us. We easily allow to share our location, our searches, sometimes even our contacts or more personal information. We do this because we just want to disappear the alert that came out in the application, maybe we click and accept as a default action, we are too lazy to read or maybe we do not take much importance to what we are sharing and how important, private it is.

We are the resources that fill database with data. There are many companies that depend on our collaboration and we do not even know it. How interesting is that there are platforms that share some of the information collected with us, that make us feel part of something and transparently ask us for help, ask for our data and we openly do it, in a consensual way because we know that we benefit from other people that also decide to do it.

I just read about a report made by people of DECODE project where they say that data should be the fundamental public infrastructure of the 21st century, as were roads, street lights and clean drinking water in the past. They want city governments to start reconceiving data as a new type of common good, because by helping citizens regain control of their data, it is possible to generate public value rather than private profit.

In fact, the goal of DECODE project is to essentially create data commons from data produced by people, their devices and sensors; a shared resource enabling citizens to contribute, access and use the data for public good.

I found interesting the following recommendations that they do about what city policymakers should take on board when considering smart cities or other connectivity initiatives:

  • Build consensus around clear ethical principles, and translate them into practical policies.
  • Train public sector staff in how to assess the benefits and risks of smart technologies.
  • Look outside the council for expertise and partnerships, including with other city governments.
  • Find and articulate the benefits of privacy and digital ethics to multiple stakeholders.
  • Become a testbed for new services that give people more privacy and control.
  • Make time and resources available for genuine public engagement on the use of surveillance technologies.
  • Build digital literacy and make complex or opaque systems more understandable and accountable.
  • Find opportunities to involve citizens in the process of data collection and analysis from start to finish.


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