HASS Colloquium Series (By Shazade Jameson) – Global Data Justice in an era of Big Data: What are the questions for Singapore’s Smart Nation?

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The ‘big data revolution’ is a powerful tool transforming human and economic development. Data-driven decision-making seems to answer the needs for efficiency, transparency, objectivity and security. Governments are spearheading data innovation and instrumented environments for urban management in ‘smart cities’, while regulatory sandboxes encourage creativity and governance by experiment within clearly defined confines. At the same time, as previously invisible populations and patterns are made legible to datafication, we must interrogate the assumption that the power of data will favour inclusion and positive outcomes by default.

The European Research Council-funded Global Data Justice research project posits that just as an idea of justice is needed in order to make laws, an idea of data justice is necessary to determine ethical paths through a datafying world (Taylor, 2017). What are we optimising for? By creating a globally inclusive debate on what data justice could look like, the research aims to foster the positive potential of data technologies for human development and provide ways to decrease their negative impacts, informing the design and governance of data systems worldwide.

This talk will present the key trends shaping visibility in the era of big data, raising some of the challenging questions we now face, before providing an overview of the project. Finally, the talk will sketch out the prospective questions for upcoming research on Singapore as a case study of digitalisation spearheading economic development in urban space, with a focus on experimentation and optimisation.

Speaker’s Bio

Shazade Jameson is a social scientist specialising in digital governance, smart urbanism, and data justice. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the Tilburg Institute of Law, Technology and Society (TILT), of Tilburg Law School in the Netherlands. She is part of the European Research Council-funded project on Global Data Justice led by Dr. Linnet Taylor. Shaz holds an MSc. in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam and a BSc. in Psychology from the University of Sussex. She has researched datafication in smart cities in the Netherlands, incentives for citizen-generated data production, urban governance configurations and knowledge management across the Global South, and cognitive biases in attention, amongst others. In the past she has also worn the hats of scenario mapper, editor, social media advisor, and teacher. As a visiting researcher at HASS, she is working with Dr. Ate Poorthuis.