When people ask “what is your research?”, I normally reply “well, I study the data generated in cities so we can better understand cities.” Considering myself as an urbanist, I believe this overarching research purpose is critical. Yes, there are many brilliant people in computer science and engineering deal with data in an urban context, from social media to autonomous vehicle. But the interest may focus on data or technology rather than the city as their ultimate research subject.
“Data Science and Urbanism” seems to be a new research domain. In a sense, it is a ‘unicorn’ embedded with the complexities from both data and cities. I feel it is necessary to have a dedicated category for this topic since, on the one hand, the term “Data Science” seems to become a buzzword that being abused, and on the other hand, “Urban Informatics” as an emerging field still seems to be a jargon that brings a lot of confusions. To keep the clarity, I only focus the following questions:
Does domain knowledge in cities even matters when dealing with urban data? If so, what is precisely ‘urban expertise’ and its insights on data science?
In short, I want to discuss the ‘urban‘ character of particular data, and how to deal with it regarding the methodology, computation, and practical considerations. As I currently exploring this research area, my posts probably will contain more questions than solutions. Nonetheless, I want to raise these questions and keep them documented for a more comprehensive discussion in the future. I will keep the post brief since this is what a blog for.
In the next post, I will discuss the meaning of “domain knowledge in cities”.