Urban data, inequality and justice in the global South
A critical evaluation of new data streams in cities of the global South through the lens of “data justice”.
Cities in the global South – including those with a smart city agenda – are seeing increasing presence of digital data of all kinds: from mobile phones, remote sensing, ground-level sensors, community mapping, etc. This datafication of the city means growing velocity, volume and variety of data used in urban decision-making; and expanding presence for the city’s “data twin”: a virtual simulacrum through which the city is increasingly planned and even experienced.
This SCI project commissioned a set of urban data case studies that take a critical perspective and help build the evidence base on “data justice” – who wins and who loses, the relationship to power and inequality from this datafication – particularly for those living in slums and informal settlements who are already marginalised in the physical city. Will they become further excluded: absent or mis-represented from the city’s data twin? Or can they be positively incorporated into datafication? Such questions are particularly sharp for those living in cities of the global South where gaps between elites and marginalised groups are most pronounced, and potentially undermine future urban sustainability for both groups.
The case studies are available online as follows:
- Making Informal Settlements ‘Visible’ Through Datafication: A Case Study of Quarry Road West Informal Settlement, Durban, South Africa (Catherine Sutherland, Bahle Mazeka, Sibongile Buthelezi, Duduzile Khumalo and Patrick Martel)
- Community-Based Data Justice: A Model for Data Collection in Informal Urban Settlements (Denisse Albornoz, Katherine Reilly & Marieliv Flores)
- Capturing Gender and Class Inequities: The CCTVisation of Delhi (Aayush Rathi & Ambika Tandon)
- Data Gathering and Justice in the Urban Informal Sector: Views from the Frontline (Terry Gibson)
- Aadhaar-Led Identification and Datafication Among Informal Workers in South India: A Data-Justice Perspective (Shyam Krishna)
- Data Justice through the Prism of Information Politics and Resource Injustice: A Case Study from Hyderabad’s Urban Frontier (Loraine Kennedy, Ashima Sood, Debdatta Chakraborty & Ram Mohan Chitta)
- Urban Slums in a Datafying Milieu: Challenges for Data-Driven Research Practice (Bijal Brahmbhatt, Siraz Hirani, Neha Lal & Bhumika Chauhan)
- Spatial|Data Justice: Mapping and Digitised Strolling against Moral Police in Iran (Azadeh Akbari)
- Visual Data Justice? Datafication of Urban Informality in South Africa Using 360o Imaging Technologies (Jonathan Cinnamon)
Our four research themes explore how we can achieve less resource-intensive ways of life.
We are developing research collaborations on emerging new themes.