Copenhagen and Data utilization

Generation of data in society is happening at all times through constant use of web pages, mobile phones or other devices connected to the Internet. The data can be everything from pollution stats to how satisfied they are with their doctor. A trend in the private sector is utilizing data in order to tailor advertisement and services to consumers. It is from here the government needs to draw inspiration and look into the technical developments happening. Utilizing data will help generate new jobs and improve the services delivered to the citizens. For an efficient solution, the municipality of Copenhagen needs to develop guidelines for data usage in the public sector.

Citizens constantly produce data in society, in both private and public sector, especially with the increased digitization of public services and usage of gadgets and phones. Utilizing data generated from this in an efficient way will become central to the government if they are to deliver quality services to its citizens. An example of this is the Danish tax authority, SKAT, who knows its citizens through modelling and predictions. This allows for predictions of future behavior and can create knowledge of new kinds of state-citizen relations as the state increasingly relies on computation in its relation to citizens. The reality is however, that most sectors of the government do not utilize the data. The challenge lies in figuring out how to best utilize the data in a way so it adds value to the society. Therefore, there is a need for research on how to optimization data usage in the public sector on a broad scale.

To address this need, Consulting Group X created a bespoke Big Data Methodology that, if done right, will result in guidelines applicable for any given part of the municipality. It will contain information of how to think about data, its importance, and how to utilize it. Another aspect is the transparency; teaching the citizens about how their data will be utilized in order to enhance their experience with the municipality to improve the relationship between citizen and state.

To find the pillars needed to create a more efficient state usage of data, Consulting Group X, between 24.03.2017 and 31.03.2017, have conducted a literature study on the field, consisting of four articles and seven URLs. The study has consisted of reading all of the writings, and then gathering and connecting the most crucial information into the blueprint that make up the guidelines that will guide the different sectors of the Copenhagen municipality. This includes both usage of the data itself and pedagogical principles for passing this knowledge on to the citizens. The guidelines help unravel the opportunities that lie within data utilization.

Consulting Group X’s findings identify several influences on data usage and the urgency for the municipality of Copenhagen to rethink their efforts and strategies towards it. As data is everywhere in today’s society, the methodology suggests covering everything from the digital divide to knowledge production; resulting in useful cross-functional guidelines for the municipality.

Big Data adds another layer to the complexity that is governance. This layer, can if used correctly, help unravel some of the complexities through data mining. By analyzing the data, extracting information and making it understandable, the government can enhance the relations between citizens and state. The questions that need investigation is how the citizens utilize data-services, what data is stored, how the public view these services and the potential opportunities of optimizing these. Further, this raises questions about how to analyze the data in regards to the subjectivity and the ethical side of it. Bigger is not always better, at least not if one cannot make sense of the data.

This usage relates to the constant production of data that is happening in today’s society. The government and its functions need to educate the citizens about how their data-production can affect their daily life. Another perspective is for the government to restructure the laws regarding the utilization of the data of its citizens. These aspects can affect the insurance granted by private companies to the citizens, based on the data they have collected on them. Citizens are losing control over their data once produced. Policies regarding the citizens’ right to control their own data is not in place, and it is therefore urgent that to carry out studies in this regard.

Big companies as Apple and Facebook are currently investing into Denmark to host their data-centers. Therefore, it is a need to conduct studies of the data-laws, the effects hosting the data will have, and the impact it will have on both the digital infrastructure and the social aspect. Having a clear plan and deep understanding of these regulations will help the government optimize this cooperation. Data centers might become a valuable asset for Copenhagen, and the municipality might need their own if the trend of data generation keeps on going.

In this new age technology, it is crucial that governments are following the technical developments happening. Citizens are demanding more tailored experiences and better quality in services from the municipality. Therefore, it is important to spread the knowledge of the potential data utilization can have in order for Copenhagen to better itself. Research on how to make guidelines for better data utilization is important if the municipality of Copenhagen is to deliver the best possible services for its citizens.



Thomas Andre Svensson                                                    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel: 123123123



Technology Usage is turning us Into Data Producing Hybrids without Control of Our Data Output

Humans now have two personalities, real and virtual. Our virtual personality bases itself on the data that we produce. As these tools play an ever-larger role in our life, we know little about what happens to the data we produce. Questions emerge about where it goes and the role it has in defining our virtual personality and the future implications.

Our virtual personality is part of what Thrift (2014) calls the ‘hybrid being’, meaning beings compromised of digital data and human flesh. Daily use of technology, be it social media or your smartwatch, produces the data that make up our virtual personality. There is something happening to our virtual personality that we cannot control, a categorization. This lack of transparency is something that might us in the future. Someone is defining our virtual one, but we do not know the implications of this definition.

As usage of big data is becoming more popular, many companies use modeling and prediction to understand it. These tools work as simplifying mechanisms to navigate the complexities of modern life. Within Europe, the public sector is taking use of the new kinds of data and infrastructures. Regional government in Denmark has made it possible for clinicians to let data generated by patients tracking devices inform health advice (Winthereik and Gad, Year?). These gadgets can be a gain in our lives, but gadgets are also gaining from our use of it. If you are wearing a smart-watch, the result is a 24/7 generation of data everywhere you go. In this sense, technology is an extension of us, and vice versa. The data produced will add to the virtual personality. This virtual personality is merely a number in a database, but it is a powerful number, as it could possibly define you.

We do not know enough about how people interact with, make sense of and use the digital data they generate (Lupton, 2016). However, we know that the devices we carry with us literally are our companions: the smartphone is regularly touched, fiddled with and looked at throughout the day. In addition, this companion send out continuous flows of personal information (Lupton, 2016). It is therefore important to learn more about how we can have a productive relationship, recognizing our mutual dependency (Lupton, 2016). The data these companions produce emerge beyond our bodies/selves and into the digital economies and circulations, purposed and repurposed by different actors (Lupton, 2016). Whether we care or not, these data-human assemblages from our companions have implications for our lives in a rapidly growing array of contexts.

The implications of the big data is just growing, and it is time for a call to investigate and intervene current big data usage.


Thrift, N, is a British academic and geographer. Brit Ross Winthereirk and Christopher Gad are Ph. D. Assoc. Prof. at the IT University of Copenhagen.

Thrift N (2014) The ‘sentient’ city and what it may portend. Big Data & Society, 1. Available at:þhtml (accessed 1 April 2014).

Project Proposal – Data as Relation, VELUX Fonden (The info from Brit Ross Wintererik and Christopher Gad).

For more information feel free to not contact me.


Peer Critique – Critical Questions for Big Data – Boyd & Crawford

Critical Questions for Big Data by Boyd & Crawford bring up six provocations about Big Data to spark conversations about the assumptions, values, and biases within the field of study. They question the definition of knowledge, objectivity, quantity, context, ethical aspects, and the power of actors.

The goal of the paper become clear through reading the abstract and the introduction. However, I think the introduction is too long and I think the abstract conveys the same information with fewer words. Therefore cutting down on the length of the introduction could be an improvement. The same goes for the abstract; it could be shorter and more concise. To understand the essence of the abstract, we only need the two last sentences. A tip could be to cut down on both, but utilize the compactness of the cutaways from the abstract to rewrite the introduction in a more compact way.

In the last paragraph of the introduction Boyd & Crawford write about how there are “… some significant and insightful studies currently being done that involve Big Data …” As a reader I get curious about what these are, and they do not provide any references to what it might be. My suggestion is therefore to include some sources, or at least the names of some scientists currently studying it, giving the reader the chance to look it up and increase their knowledge.

This leads me to my next point, the lack of a model or a table. The main body of the text is tidy with headings marking each of the questions, making it clear where the focus is. However, if you were in a hurry to extract the information, a simple table showing the six provocations and a short summary of the main takeaways, serving as a conclusion. This leads me to the last critique, the lack of a clear (maybe traditional) conclusion. If Boyd & Crawford were to follow my advice about the length of the abstract and introduction they would have space for a new heading called conclusion or summary, showing the wonderful table they just made.