Data Commons: UC at Smart City Exhibition 2015

Data Commons: Ubiquitous Commons at Smart City Exhibition 2015 in Bologna

Data as Commons. This will be the focus of our intervention at Smart City Exhibition 2015 in Bologna, on October 16th 2015, at 9:30.

What happens when data becomes a commons? How can we build the high quality relational environment which is needed for citizens to effectively manage commons? What data can become a commons? How can we create inclusive, collaborative economies of multiple types through data commons? What impacts can these kinds of processes have on a city and its community? How can the practices of daily life change through data commons?

These are only some of the issues which we’ll confront with in Ubiquitous Commons‘ intervention at the Smart City Exhibition:

We will talk about them with Gianni Dominici (General Director of Forum PA), Andrea Borruso (Open Data Sicilia), Pina Civitella (Responsible for Information Systems Development at the City Administration of Bologna), Christian Iaione (LabGov), Bruno Monti (Manager of the GIS Unit at the City Administration in Milan), Ilaria Vitellio (CEO at Mappina).

This is a very important moment for the city of Bologna, and it is also the reason why having a discussion such as this one is of fundamental importance at this time.

After being the first city in the world to officially adopt a public regulation for the care and regeneration of the urban commons (more information here on LabGov and on the P2P Foundation Wiki), the city is progressively moving towards a full scale commoning process, Co-Bologna.

This commoning process will include both material and immaterial domains, including data, information and knowledge.

In current times, we generate data and information all the time: through smartphones, cameras, networks, devices, things in our homes, offices, schools, and even when we least realise it, unconsciously, by performing common gestures like flipping a light switch or walking on a CCTV infested sidewalk. Our bodies, relations, behaviours, expressions, actions, constantly generate data and information.

In this moment in history, there is a large unbalance between people (and, in general, data-subjects), and operators (from social networks, to IoT, wearables, biomedicals, domotics, sensors and the “smart-somethings” we are commonly starting to find disseminated in our environments).

On the one hand, it is impossible for subjects to understand what data/information is generated from our behaviours. Even a simple consideration about algorithms and data harvesting and processing procedures can make this thought self-evident.

If I am posting an image about my holidays at the beach on a social network, I am also generating information about the fact that I went on holiday, that the beach is among my preferences for consumption of touristic products, that I went to that specific beach (meaning a price range, a possible inferred level of revenue, a time in which other people, who I might not even know, were at that same beach at the same time…), and the list could go on forever.

It is, simply, not possible for subjects to know what data they generate, and for what purpose it is used.

On top of that, it is also impossible for people to express how they wish their data/information to be used.

If I speak about “pollution in my neighbourhood” on a social network, it is not possible for me to specify that this information should be used for civic purposes, or for governance purposes, or for my neighbours, so that we can maybe do something about it. Every one of these subjects would have to pay (in one way or another) the social network to collect this data, even if I specified that it was for them.

This type of process goes on for domotics, smartphones, wearables, sensors and all of the network-connected devices and ambient electronics through which we generate data and information, continuously, consciously or unconsciously.

There is no way in which we can express how we wish this data to be used.

Or, from another point of view, we currently have no way in which it is possible to create an high quality relational environment (between people, organisations, companies, institutions…) in which to establish our desires, visions, purposes and scopes regarding the usage of these enormous quantities of data/information which we generate, to govern it collaboratively, with all the agreements, differences, conflicts and imaginations which are typical of human beings and their cultures.

This is possibly the most important issue for a commoning process: the possibility for the creation of a high quality relational environment in which to live in the shared governance of the commons.

Publishing Open Data (whether generated from the public administration, or collected by citizens, or else) is useless if a relational environment of this kind is absent.

This is why we feel that initiatives like the Ubiquitous Commons are so important: they establish the legal and technical protocols through which such relational environments can be described and enacted, allowing subjects to define identities, participate to them, and express how they wish that immaterial resources should be used, in an ecosystemic way.

Bologna is the first city with which we are actually considering embracing Ubiquitous Commons, in its current version or in one of its (near) future evolutions, completely or progressively, and integrating it in some way (which will be partial, initially, for sure, but growing as the process and UC grows with it) into the commoning process.

Come to Smart City Exhibition in Bologna in October to know more, keep your eyes on the commoning process in the city of Bologna, and stay updated on the Ubiquitous Commons developments.

And contact us for more information, if you wish.