Stop and think about the ways ‘big data’ infiltrates day-to-day life and you will likely feel a wave of nervousness around the collection and use of this information. Despite this, many suggest that it can be used for the good of all – even, if not especially, in the design of the built environment.
Patricia and I spent Wednesday afternoon at ‘Big data and the design of cities: Chicago and London’, a seminar hosted simultaneously in both locations, jointly organised by the NLA and Chicago Architecture Centre. In exploring the overarching theme of how big data can inform future development, sticking points included how to determine which building performance characteristics are actually important, ways to crowdsource yet verify data, ecosystems of open source information and, as is a reoccurring theme with big data, issues of privacy (hello, GDPR!). With speakers spanning the public and private sectors, the event perhaps drew out more questions than it answered.