Data-Driven Participation: Algorithms, Cities, Citizens, and Corporate Control

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Data-Driven Participation: Algorithms, Cities, Citizens, and Corporate Control


  • Matthew Tenney Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Renee Sieber Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Canada


Abstract  In this paper, we critically explore the interplay of algorithms and civic participation in visions of a city governed by equation, sensor and tweet. We begin by discussing the rhetoric surrounding techno-enabled paths to participatory democracy. This leads to us interrogating how the city is impacted by a discourse that promises to harness social/human capital through data science. We move to a praxis level and examine the motivations of local planners to adopt and increasingly automate forms of VGI as a form of citizen engagement. We ground theory and praxis with a report on the uneven impacts of algorithmic civic participation underway in the Canadian city of Toronto.


Keywords  big data; civic engagement; data-driven; local government; participation; smart city; urban planning; VGI; volunteered geographic information


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v1i2.645