Sarah Barns

Essays and other writing

Recent news and views across urban data strategy, creative programming and digital place-making. 

Mine your data: open data, digital strategies and entrepreneurial governance by code

My research into the rise of open data and its use by city governments worldwide has recently been published in the journal Urban Geography (requires access, please email me if you are restricted). 


Investment in the release of open data has become increasingly central to the implementation of smart city programs by governments around the world. Though originally arising out of a push towards “open government” and the pursuit of more transparent decision-making by public authorities at multiple scales, open data programs have more recently been adopted by municipal governments to support entrepreneurial goals of enhanced competitive positioning and attracting investment. As urban scholars now subject the smart city project to critical scrutiny for its role in advancing urban entrepreneurialism, this article considers the relevance of the open data agenda as it shapes wider understandings of the smart city. In particular, I address the collection of policy practices, aspirations, stakeholders and entrepreneurs active in framing the opportunities and values of open data for urban governments. Both the momentum of support for open data, along with a recent shift in the rhetorical aspirations of the open data movement away from the values of openness and transparency and towards a more confined focus on value generation, raise important critical questions for urban geographers concerned with the nature of urban governance in an age of big data.