Data – The Civic Bureau + DataStore


Census statistics have been the core of social architecture for thousands of years and it is the key tool that directs huge amounts of public funding in both the UK and India. Between 2001-11 the UK census directed the allocation of £1 trillion worth of government spending but the questions, methods and format has remained the same for many years.We want to explore how the census can build a steady accumulation of civic records that can facilitate a different relationship between citizens and the state. We are interested in how the census can make better use of civic technology and what the census would look like if done at a City level, built on the idea of the city as a public good. Our first experiment, the Civic Bureau begins at Somerset House, as part of the Civic Workshop residency in January 2015.


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An initial drive to create LondonScape was to spark people’s curiosity in data. While a great many people are striving to make access to the Web a civil right, the risk of remaining data illiterate also has the potential to create debilitating social disadvantage and disempowerment. This inspired us to create DataStore.

DataStore was developed at the Urban Prototyping Festival in London in April 2013. It went on to win an award for the theme of Building Urban Resilience. Amongst all the technology builds, we spoke of smart cities not simply being about technology and infrastructure but about the capabilities and ‘smartness’ of the people that inhabit them and the importance of data literacy. DataStore aims to raise data consciousness, both personal and public, facilitate the practice of interpretation and bring to life the potential of data when it is opened and linked.