Data and the City: Using Big Data to make decisions in the urban space


Any kind of human settlement quickly manifests the social relations between its inhabitants in the physical world. This has never been truer than it is in the modern city: citizens shape their neighbourhoods and their neighbourhoods in turn shape them; skyscrapers are the concrete face of power and the shape and density of the road and public transportation networks show who is well connected and who is left behind.

Understanding the character of the city is vital to deciding where to start a new business or where to find a home. Unfortuantely, many aspects of life in the city are subtle and ever-evolving: a place with great transportation connections may turn into a nightmare as trains turn out to be running all night; yesterday's run-down factory can be the heart of tomorrow's trendsetting district. Most decisions in the urban space have profound consequences for people's future. How then can Open Data be used to help make the right choice?

This talk would briefly review the wealth of Open Data available in the United Kingdom via government sources and the relevance of open initiatives such as OpenStreetMap in understanding the urban space. It would then look at how this data is critical to informing decisions made by people and businesses, illustrate how Home on Demand employs Open Data to allow tenants and landlords to make more efficient decisions in the property market and finally discuss the opportunities and challenges of using data in this particular space.