Big Data, Urban Citizenship, and the World Machine

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  • Title: Big Data, Urban Citizenship, and the World Machine
  • Author(s): Mike Dee
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Global Studies
  • Journal Title: The Global Studies Journal
  • Keywords: Data, Power, Surveillance, Citizenship
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 1835-4432 (Print)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Dee, Mike. 2017. "Big Data, Urban Citizenship, and the World Machine." The Global Studies Journal 10 (2): 41-49. doi:10.18848/1835-4432/CGP/v10i02/41-49.
  • Extent: 8 pages


Urban public spaces are increasingly sutured with a range of surveillance and sensor technologies claiming to enable new forms of “data based citizen participation,” but often leading to “function-creep,” whereby vast amounts of data are gathered, stored, and analysed in a broad application of urban surveillance. This kind of monitoring and capacity for surveillance connects with attempts by civic authorities to regulate, restrict, rebrand, and reframe urban public spaces and the communities located there. A direct consequence of the increasingly security driven, policed, privatised, and surveilled nature of public space is the exclusion or “unfavourable inclusion” of those considered flawed and unwelcome in the “spectacular” consumption spaces of many major urban centres. This paper considers alternative scenarios, suggesting that cities, places, and spaces and those who seek to use them, can be resilient in working to maintain and extend democratic freedoms and processes, calling sensor and surveillance systems to account. This better informs the implementation of public policy around the design, build, and governance of public space. Moreover, understandings of urban citizenship, social rights, and participation in the sensor saturated, “Big Data” urban environment are interrogated through consideration of forms of citizenship, extending the work of Marshall and Bottomore (1950) by looking at Insurgent and also Ecological citizenships.