MediaFutures partners King’s College London, Department of Informatics and Eurecat will be hosting a special track at this years’ Data for Policy conference. The conference brings together interdisciplinary and cross-sector experts and practitioners to discuss the impact and potential of the digital revolution in the government sector. It has in the past focused on topics like digital trust, data governance, or data-driven policy on Covid 19 – all also very relevant topics for MediaFutures and our projects.

The 2022 Conference is held both virtual and in three physical locations (Hong Kong, Seattle, Brussels) and focuses on innovation ecosystems. Our special track will focus on citizen generated data for policy, innovation and democratic participation.

Data innovations are having a growing effect on the participation of citizens to both political and non-political issues of public concern around the world. Initiatives to engage citizens through data platforms and systems are having an impact on numerous sectors, such as science, public health, humanitarian interventions, activism, and much more. At the same time, countries are beginning to develop policies that affect these systems, covering issues such as cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, and artificial intelligence. As we have observed in this regulatory process globally, citizens are not always at the centre of these policy processes, often competing with diverging national and corporate interests.

Citizen science is a way for citizens to engage with and learn about scientific processes, contribute to issues they care about, and effect change. Engagements commonly occur both in person – e.g. through environmental monitoring – or online. Crowdsourcing is a technique used both within citizen science and innovation, allowing either volunteers or paid crowd-workers to engage in activities such as data categorisation, often for later use in machine learning algorithms. Open source projects in many fields use similar approaches, including collaborative projects such as Open Street Maps or Wikipedia, where groups of users with specific interest contribute to achieve common goals. What all of these activities share is that citizens generate contribute, or process data. The motivation for this proposed track is therefore to allow researchers to highlight citizens uses of data innovations, with the hope of placing citizens at the centre of future policy-making initiatives. The track will discuss challenges and opportunities in developing data platforms, systems and policies for civic participation, including for participation in global development processes, democratic participation and inclusion of marginalised communities. It will explore and showcase the full potential of citizen generate data in its many forms, for both policy and innovation; the specific challenges related to the generation, processing and use of citizen generated data for policy and innovation; connections between policy makers, innovators, and citizens to enable the use of such data; and case studies of both successful and unsuccessful connections.

Possible topics might include (but not be limited to):

  • Consultations and monitoring for regional or global development (such as the Sustainable Development Goals);
  • Civic participation in democratic governance and other decision-making processes;
  • Citizen-centric data governance frameworks (such as data trusts, data commons, and data collaboratives);
  • Citizen science or participatory research;
  • Citizen generated data for innovation;
  • Citizen perspectives on emerging data and technology policy challenges (such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc.);
  • Tensions between grassroots data collection and monitoring and high-level engagement and policy;
  • Perspectives on the above in relation to gender, age, ethnicity, or migration.

More details are available on the conference website and submissions can be made through EasyChair.