Different Data Futures: An Experiment in Citizen Data

Ruppert, Evelyn. 2019. Different Data Futures: An Experiment in Citizen Data. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 35(4), pp. 633-641. ISSN 1874-7655 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Big data and citizens are inseparable: from smartphones, meters, fridges and cars to internet platforms, the data of digital technologies is the data of citizens. In addition to raising political and ethical issues of privacy, confidentiality and data protection, the repurposing of big data calls for rethinking relations to citizens in the production of official statistics if they are to be trusted. I argue for relations that involve co-producing data—or ‘citizen data’—where citizens are engaged in statistical production, from the design of a data production platform to the interpretation and analysis of data. While raising issues such as data quality, l suggest that in a time of ‘alternative facts’, what constitutes legitimate knowledge and expertise are major political sites of contention and struggle and require going beyond defending existing practices towards inventing new ones. In this light, the future of official statistics not only depends on inventing new data sources and methods but also mobilizing the possibilities of digital technologies to establish new relations with citizens.

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The project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS) was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) / ERC Grant Agreement no. 615588.


citizen science, co-production, experimentalism, privacy-by-design, smart statistics

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11 October 2019Accepted
10 December 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Oct 2019 10:36

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 21:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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