DATAstudio Eindhoven

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= what "datafication of the “smart city” means for the involvement of people who are not part of a technologically savvy avant-garde in Eindhoven", Netherlands.



Michiel de Lange:

"New commoning practices can be seen in a recent cultural project called DATAstudio Eindhoven ( The project was an initiative of Eindhoven municipality and Institute for Architecture, design, and e-culture Het Nieuwe Instituut around the question what the datafication of the “smart city” means for the involvement of people who are not part of a technologically savvy avant-garde in Eindhoven (known as a technology and engineering city). During the exploratory phase, the project initiators set up camp in a park in the residential neighborhood Woensel Noord. They asked passers-by what they considered important local issues. From these interviews and a subsequent series of talks and discussions in public places like the library, the project zoomed in on what it called “data deserts”: urban issues that are difficult to be adequately captured with data. The challenge became to open up non-datafied and fairly invisible issues that nonetheless have large societal impact, like loneliness, and make them publicly debatable. In the next phase, design concepts were developed during a workshop led by Dan Hill (Arup Digital Studio) that linked social data to city planning. One proposed outcome was the project Roomsel Noord, a community-led platform linking lonely elderly people who own a home with young freelance workers looking for flex spaces to work. While that remains a hypothetical and perhaps somewhat solution-oriented proposal, what interests me about the overall project is that it builds on the conviction that truly tenacious societal issues tend not to come with neatly packaged data to match. In my view, the project was an attempt to “common” a mostly closed-behind-doors phenomenon that tends to be monopolized by public professionals (social workers, housing corporations, municipalities, health care). Commoning practices involved translating an intangible private issue into a series of public social interactions and discussions. This required prolonged engagement with people, places, and issues, from street interviews to design intervention workshops to an exhibition. It involved collectivization by tying the issue to current developments of relegating an increasing number of social welfare tasks to the local municipality, which in turn looks expectantly at citizens to do-it-themselves. Commoning the issue provided an interface for citizens to start talking about issues like these, their relation to other stakeholders, and to claim their right to the datafied city."


  • The Right to the Datafied City: Interfacing the Urban Data Commons. By Michiel de Lange. Chapter 5 of: The Right to the Smart City. Emerald Pubn, pp. 71-83, 2019

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