The rapidly growing availability of big data prompts important questions about its potential to (re)shape how cities plan for, and make decisions on, diverse urban issues, such as public transportation, waste management, and social service delivery.

At the same time, it prompts debate about how users – as citizens, businesses, commuters etc. – experience and navigate the various realities of smart urbanism.

In response, our research investigates where and how big data has begun to reconfigure urban governance processes, and what related opportunities and challenges arise from this. Our work is concerned with the effective coordination of new data-based knowledge processes, given that big data typically acts in complex ways across organisational and spatial boundaries and involves new types of actors (e.g. data brokers) alongside existing ones. Furthermore, our work enquires into the effects of digital interactions between service providers and users on how population needs are determined, and whether such interaction could adversely affect the representation of social needs and, in turn, skew the distribution of public services.

Our research is based on a series of in-depth empirical case studies conducted in the UK and further afield. The findings will both contribute to the conceptualization of urban governance in the digital age and inform related policy and practice developments. 

Theme Lead

Professor Simon Joss

Learn more about our work on Urban Governance by exploring the research projects below.

Scottish local government during COVID-19

Local governments across Scotland, like elsewhere, were at the forefront of the rapid response to the COVID-19 p...

Administrative “big” data and unequal access to public services

This project brings research on unequal access to public services into the digital age. It examines how citizen...

Smart city standards in local practice

An evaluation of the implementation of smart city standards in a variety of UK municipal contexts. This project...

Facility location modeling in future cities

Siting key facilities, such as hospitals and fire stations, in the right locations is vital for providing the se...