After six weeks of classes on big data, having explored questions of cybersecurity, privacy, ethics, the smart city, and smart city governance, the first run of our HOVO-course ‘Big Data and the City’ has come to an end.
The last class is a lecture by Vivien Butot about citizen perspectives in the smart city, focusing on safety and surveillance. Participants also get to discover the smart city themselves whilst playing the game ‘Jouw buurt jouw data’. One attendee complains that the data points are very hard to spot in the game. Butot’s question whether that is easier in real-life sparks laughter amongst participants. During the lecture it becomes clear that course participants are very aware and wary of constant data collection and monitoring. A participant shares that she uses an anonymous OV-chipcard to avoid being followed, which is met by applause and admiration by the rest.
During the break, it also shows that this is a topic very important to participants. Lively discussions ensue over a variety of topics: from the sensors employed by Leiden University during the Covid-19 pandemic to an AI program in healthcare to the production of data by cars in cities – big data and algorithms are everywhere these days it seems. This is also one of the reasons for participants to sign up to the HOVO-course. “Big data is very important, so I wanted to know more about it,” is an often-echoed sentiment. Whether the courses succeeded in helping understand big data better? “Yes, but many questions about what happens with the data and where it goes, remain unanswered.” Participants are eager to explore the topic further.
Big data is very important, so I wanted to know more about it."
While some participants have a background in IT and have been following this topic for a while, others see the course as a way to broaden their own horizon and delve deeper into a topic they previously haven’t engaged with. Prof. dr. Jaap van den Herik is applauded for creating a strong sense of community amongst participants despite the varying backgrounds – a role he thoroughly enjoyed. The last class ends with many heartfelt goodbyes and thank-yous and a request to be invited to Butot’s PhD defense.
We from BOLD Cities would like to thank all the participants and our guest lecturers dr. Els De Busser, prof. dr. Gerrit-Jan Zwenne, prof. dr. ing. Bram Klievink (all three Universiteit Leiden), dr. Stefan Buijsman (Delft University of Technology), dr. Michiel de Lange (Utrecht University) and Vivien Butot (Erasmus University Rotterdam) for the wonderful course. The HOVO-course would not have been possible without the organization by prof. dr. Jaap van den Herik and Yvonne Leunissen and Laetitia Smit from HOVO Leiden.