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Improving the Veracity of Open and Real-Time Urban Data

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Data are an integral part of the smart city and are used as input for decision-making, policy formation, and to inform citizens and businesses. Re flecting on our experience of developing software applications which rely on urban data, this article examines the veracity of such data (their authenticity and the extent to which they accurately (in terms of precision) and faithfully (in terms of fidelity, reliability) represent what they are meant to) and how this can be assessed. Open data are often provided with no guarantee about their veracity, continuity or lineage (in terms of documentation that establishes provenance). This allows data providers to share data with undocumented errors, absences and biases. These quality issues can propagate through systems and lead to poor software applications and unreliable 'evidence-based' decisions. In this article, we highlight the janitorial role carried out by data scientists and developers to ensure that data are cleaned, parsed, validated and transformed for use. This process requires eff ort, knowledge and skill but is rarely shared. We propose the inclusion of crowdsourcing mechanisms to record user observations and fixes for improving the quality of data within open government portals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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