Dr. Daniel Trottier, researcher at the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities, is Associate Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Trottier works on several research projects, including a five-year NWO-funded project on the topic of the use of digital media for the purposes of scrutiny, denunciation and shaming, entitled “Digital Vigilantism: Mapping the terrain and assessing societal impacts.” He is also participating in a European Commission project on urban security and has previously participated in collaborative grants on mobile privacy as well as security, privacy and digital media.
Could you tell us more about your current research at the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities?
I work on the project SYMTRA: Symbolic neighborhood trajectories in the digital city, together with Dr. John Boy (Leiden University) and Dr. Jay Lee (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Our research is a three-year during project and we are now finishing up the second year. The focus in this project is on the way digital media plays a role in neighborhoods. For example, how do people come to understand a neighborhood through mobile devices, café/restaurant apps or social media posts? We analyse digital profiles for certain city districts and look at the way developers and residents invest in the reputation of area, for example by producing localized social media content. We look at gentrification, but more generally how the reputation of a district is maintained, damaged, or enhanced through everyday data practices.
My role in this team consists of qualitative analysis and ethical applications. Currently, I’m working on a paper about how neighborhoods are misunderstood in the case of linking methodological steps and using data collection.
Because of the covid pandemic and the restrictions it brought, our project could not be based as much on on-site research. Therefore, we placed more emphasis on digital and data research.
In this multidisciplinary team there is a cohesion amongst the scientists in setting new norms that contribute to our research. It is a great way of collaboration: prioritizing compatible goals and bringing different sets of skills to the table.
How do you experience working on research at the Centre for BOLD Cities?
I find it a fantastic experience, even during the pandemic. I have always been involved in multidisciplinary research groups, so it was easy to continue in this context. It is a great way to develop a larger network in The Netherlands as well as an opportunity to get to know the city of Rotterdam better. I enjoy working in this research team.
Why do you think an interdisciplinary approach is needed for smart city related research/this research project?
We tend to dwell in our own research fields and, consequentially, be bound to sets of terms concepts and vocabulary that are the norm in our own discipline. It is necessary to come out of these bubbles. In this multidisciplinary team there is a cohesion amongst the scientists in setting new norms that contribute to our research. It is a great way of collaboration: prioritizing compatible goals and bringing different sets of skills to the table.
What was your personal motivation to become affiliated with the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities?
I am personally very interested in the arrangement of topics of this centre. There is enough breathing room to broaden my horizon academically. I think working on research at the Centre for BOLD Cities is a great opportunity to develop research topics from the ground up: having three years for a project and get to know the neighborhood very well. The way the projects are set up ideally gives room for the investment we want to give. Furthermore, it is great to broaden your horizon this way when you have grown up and studied elsewhere than in The Netherlands.