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Towards a DataPlace: mapping data in a game to encourage participatory design in smart cities

December 06, 2016 by Matthew Barker, Annika Wolff, Janet van der Linden

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The smart city has been envisioned as a place where citizens can participate in city decision making and in the design of city services. As a key part of this vision, pervasive digital technology and open data legislation are being framed as vehicles for citizens to access rich data about their city. It has become apparent though, that simply providing access to these resources does not automatically lead to the development of data-driven applications. If we are going to engage more of the citizenry in smart city design and raise productivity, we are going to need to make the data itself more accessible, engaging and intelligible for non-experts. This ongoing study is exploring one method for doing so. As part of the MK:Smart City project team, we are developing a tangible data look-up interface that acts as an alternative to the conventional DataBase. This interface, or DataPlace as we are calling it, takes the form of a map, which the user places sensors on to physically capture real-time data. This is a simulation of the physical act of capturing data in the real world. We discuss the design of the DataPlace prototype under development and the planned user trials to test out our hypothesis; that a DataPlace can make handling data more accessible, intelligible and engaging for non-experts than conventional interface types.