About us

Cities nowadays thrive on data of all kinds that help local government and business to plan, monitor and innovate. It is unclear, however, if and how people benefit from such Big, Open and Linked Data (BOLD) cities, where it seems their every feature, movement and behaviour is monitored. This citizen perspective leads the research in the Centre for BOLD Cities. It is a collaboration of Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The Centre for BOLD Cities is based on research and focuses on individual citizens and their experience in the (smart) city. The Centre aims to aid researchers in developing and conducting their research in this area, as well as to aid researchers in seeking out collaboration and joint initiatives. All of the Centre's research projects concern the position and development of urban policy and citizen experience. Our SHARED principles play an inevitable part in these projects, making it our mission to 'make BOLD cities SHARED'.

BOLD cities use all kinds of data generated by - among others - sensor technologies, social media or classic census data. The emerging urban data landscape is diverse and complex, and involves big data as well as open or linked data. It includes data that is personal and impersonal, individual and aggregate, historical and real time, and so on. It raises questions about storage, analytics, presentation and visualization, but also about appropriate data-governance and management, and particularly about the social and individual consequences of the urban data revolution for people in the city.

The Centre for BOLD Cities focuses its research in three main themes.

For citizens and civil servants: the use of data and digital technologies to aid vulnerable urban groups

Governments and municipalities increasingly use ‘big data’ and digital technology for (social) policy. Using our SHARED values, the Centre for BOLD Cities critically looks into the use of these technologies, especially when this concerns vulnerable groups. This includes our research projects on personalised re-integration, data-driven help for NEETs (young citizens that are not in education, employment or training) and the digital support for developing an inclusive urban environment for vulnerable children.

By citizens and civil servants: the enhancements of new forms of urban participation and governance

Urban digitalisation and datafication processes is developed in multi-stakeholder processes in which municipalities, companies, knowledge institutions and citizens cooperate. These processes lead to the development of new forms of participations and governance, such as living labs, hackathons and open data. The Centre for BOLD Cities is committed to advancing knowledge and awareness of the use and possibly consequences of these forms, specifically inclusion and exclusion of specific urban groups and the competences of municipal policymakers and civil servants. This theme includes the critical questioning and analysis of the underlying discourse.

With citizens and civil servants: the development of urban data literacy and democratic legitimisation

The average urban citizen does not know what ‘big data’ or a ‘smart city’ is; policymakers have diverging or even contradicting expectations. The SHARED values underline the importance of citizens’ ability to make informed choices on datafication and digitalisation in their urban environment; and the significance of including these choices in the democratic process. BOLD Cities’ research on ‘data literacy’ and ‘data empowerment’ for both city users and city makers is prevalent in, for instance, our physical and digital data walks and data dialogues.