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.
The first design of the DataStore includes the following experiences:
One wall of the data store is lined with shelves containing jars of data.These jars are themed according to different aspects of our lives from which the data is collected. Each jar tells the story of a data specimen including where the data was collected from, what it was used for and what it could link with.
Data Trails is a space in the Data Store where people can stand and view a screen with headphones on. They are taken through a journey of the day in the life of someone. On this voyage through the typical and the ordinary they see the kinds of data trails that any one person, business and institution can create each day. The viewer becomes aware of all the ways that they and others are generating data all of the time as animated clouds pop up on the screen.
The Data Reading is a one-to-one session where people get to sit and have their data read. A bit like a palm reading but instead of a fortune teller they will have their very own data scientist to explore questions about their data.The data reading will enable people to understand when and how they are personally generating data or it could also be a reading for their business too. They can ask the crystal ball in the data scientists hand to help them find meaning in their data.
The Data Bank is a physical bank of information to gather insight and feedback. As people leave the store we will ask them to post some value back in to our data bank.The data store is also a research mechanism and a way for us to gather data on some of the most important questions relevant to understanding public engagement and awareness of data.There will be a series of prompt cards that you can post back to us with our sets of questions.
This is a way for people to see their data visualised on merchandise. Data visualisations can be beautiful and, we think, pretty cool. So part-raising public awareness, part raising the cool factor, we want to put out there some of our own designed merchandise but we also want to give the public an opportunity to see their own data visualised on to things that they can take away with them.
We are already planning the next version, and the DataStore will be travelling to the USA later this year as well as France. There will also be a DataStore as part of the work with Westminster Council, that will form a learning/data literacy space and local presence for the LondonScape test bed. We hope that data will no longer be something to dismiss or be afraid of but a powerful tool, accessible to all - to play with, to hack and to draw meaning and make better judgement from.