Universiteit Leiden

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Dr. Sarah Giest on Big Data for Local Policymaking: Fad or Fast Track?

Wednesday 12 April 2017
Erasmus Paviljoen (the Theatre), Campus Woudestein, Erasmus University
Burgemeester Oudlaan 350

Whereas some call the increased use of big data a revolution at the scale of the Industrial Era, others insist that nothing has changed except for datasets getting bigger. Scholars at both ends of the spectrum however foresee changes in the way policymaking is being done and the way it affects citizens. The former group hopes for decisions that are faster, better supported by evidence and containing less uncertainty, whereas more critical voices question which models for data analytics should be preferred and are more concerned with the lack of analytical capacity from policy-side to fully analyze the data available. This lecture reflects on this debate based on a study of how big data is used to reduce carbon emission in cities. The lecture specifically discusses how the cities of Copenhagen (Denmark), London (UK), Malmö (Sweden), Oxford (UK) and Vienna (Austria) all show how institutional factors limit local government capacity to set up data management structures that would allow further utilization of big data, and that current solutions focus on local pilot sites and outsourcing of data analytics.

Sarah Giest is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration, Leiden University since September 2014. In her research, Sarah comparatively analyses policymaking in urban areas focusing on innovation and sustainability. She is currently working on several projects connected to big data use by policymakers with the goal of unpacking the way data information impacts policy design at local level. She defended her Political Science PhD in 2014 at Simon Fraser University in Canada (cum laude). More information on Sarah can be found at www.sarahgiest.com.


This lecture is organized by the Knowledge Lab Urban Big Data (http://www.kenniswerkplaats-urbanbigdata.nl) and the Innovation Platform of the Rotterdam Municipality.

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