Democratizing Data Science: Effective Use of Data in Civic Participation and Advocacy

Presented by Aare Puussaar

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
4:00 p.m.
ICSI Conference Room 6A


Increasingly, data is collected from places and about people living and working in them. This is done with an aim to optimize resources, build sustainable environments and improve the lives of citizens. This includes data from sensor networks, IoT devices and citizen sensor kits, personal informatics devices, but also data collected using traditional polling of citizens. Data exists or can be collected for just about everything, but it is often not accessible for everyone. Although there is an active effort by governments and other institutions to release datasets to improve services, there are a lot of barriers to effectively using data in civic participation and decision-making. These barriers include appropriate tools for accessing available datasets, but also ability to understand the data and putting it in context of the community. My research explores more inclusive and participatory ways of designing data-driven, people-centered smart city tools and to support civic participation and advocacy. I will give an overview of my current research and the systems I have co-designed and built for accessing, visualizing and collaborative making sense of data.


Aare Puussaar is a PhD candidate at Newcastle University’s Open Lab. Before starting his doctorate studies, he worked as a software architect and data scientist, analyzing and visualizing large volumes mobile positioning data to extract insights about people’s mobility for variety of applications. His current interests lay in understanding the relationship between data, information and knowledge. He is interested in tools and mechanisms that enable non-professionals to make use of data and data science techniques.