The rising tide of urban data is transforming the field of urban planning. Studies utilizing cell phone data, social network service data, sensors, and satellite imageries have opened up new avenues of inquiry to quantify the built environment and model formerly hidden human mobility dimensions. Despite the myriad ways to synthesize this newly available information, the act of shaping cities remains a political gesture often legitimized through the use of data.
The Projections Volume 16, titled “Measuring the City: The Power of Urban Metrics,” brings together papers that reflect on the advantages and pitfalls of using spatial data to study cities. The issue includes the work of scholars studying political structures and how they relate to the built environment using novel datasets and methodologies and others who study the politics of urban design and policy using urban data. More specifically, this volume aims to 1) critically evaluate the nature of the urban data that is ceaselessly generated; 2) investigate how the understanding of city life is being fundamentally reshaped through data-driven models and measurements; and 3) demonstrate how these models interface with real-world politics of urban design in cities.
The Projections Volume 16 provides a venue for critical reflections on nuanced and situated practices of urban planning that can hopefully inform and transform cities. Collectively, the papers show the breadth of work in the scholarship on data and cities.