The Open Data Institute defines open data as “data that anyone can access, use or share” (Open Data Institute, 2017) and believes it benefits citizens and economies. Open data is used on Community Insight, funded by Brighton and Hove City Council, allowing people to “find, explore and use a wide range of facts and figures at different geographic levels for Brighton and Hove.” (Community Insight, 2017). Similarly used on City Dashboard, which claims to “aggregates simple spatial data for cities around the UK and displays the data on a dashboard and a map.” (City Dashboard, 2017). The information on both these websites is about citizens and economies and free to access and they use dashboards to collect, analyse and display data.
Few defines dashboards as important information displayed visually on a single screen. (Few, 2006: 34). Leszczynski describes urban big data, such as displayed on the above websites, as “continuous, real-time flows of information,” and identifies a link in this and digitalisation. (Leszczynski, 2016: 1694).
At first look, city dashboards on these two websites appear to be representing a city. However, Kitchin et al describe city dashboards as actively framing and producing cities rather than reflecting them. (Kitchin et al, 2015: 6). This can be applied to Community Insight who provide statistics on areas of the city, rating them with the amount of child poverty, retired adults or people on unemployment benefit etc. This information could have a detrimental effect on an area by producing stereotypes. For example, more affluent people choosing to move to a different area to avoid what they could view as a higher percentages of undesirable qualities. However, they could also highlight areas that require more council funding. This duplicity is echoed by Kitchin et al who state that while dashboards are a multitude of ways to see and understand a city. (Kitchin et al, 2015: 25).
City Dashboard. (2017). ‘About.’ City Dashboard. Available at: http://citydashboard.org/about.php (Accessed 09/03/17).
Community Insight. (2017). ‘About.’ Community Insight Brighton and Hove. Available at: http://brighton-hove.communityinsight.org/custom_pages?view_page=1 (Accessed 09/03/17).
Few, S. (2006). Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data. O’Reilly. Pp.34.
Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T. P. And McArdle, G. (2015). ‘Knowing and governing cities through urban indicators, city benchmarking and real-time dashboards.’ Regional Studies, Regional Science. 2 (1). Pp.6-25.
Leszczynski, A. (2016). Speculative futures: Cities, data and governance beyond smart urbanism. Environment and Planning A. 48 (9). Pp.1694.