Research Themes

We identify six themes that represent the range of our work with partners.

Theme 1 Anywhere, Anyone, Anytime

We believe that the Web 2.0 and its associated technologies will dramatically shift the way cities talk to their constituents and others. People can communicate with cities from anywhere, outside of a jurisdiction, and at any time, for example, which means outside formal venues like city council meetings. Anonymity implies that you do not know the identity of the contributor. This challenges traditional definitions of community, citizen, and participation. We will evaluate the processes of technology development and that impact on its city and the citizen.

Theme 2 Spatial Authenticity, Accuracy, and Standards    

The moment you bring up volunteered geographic information (VGI) (e.g., with Open 311), you worry about the quality of data. This theme considers questions of data structures, standards, and documentation practices used by public agencies. The research produced also aims to develop consensus on terminology, data standards, and dissemination regarding the opening up of government data and acceptance of VGI.

Theme 3 Laws, Norms, Rights and Code         

Data related to governance is not simply a technical matter. Issues that are policy-related and legal in nature will be a primary focus as we try to understand the way Geoweb 1) fits within existing laws and policy, and 2) shapes new policies and law. Specific legal domains of interest are privacy, intellectual property, access to information, access to justice, and the interplay between norms, codes and technology with regards to governance.

Theme 4 Open Everything        

We will track municipal open data engagement over time, theorize about the impacts of open data on governance, and understand and develop best practices. We also have the opportunity to document these approaches and track the evolution of open data practices over time.

Theme 5 Space, Place, and Social Justice      

We will explore aspects of Geoweb – Society relationships as they pertain to social justice. We will identify the success and failures of Geoweb for community development. Using a case study approach we will employ participatory research to identify emerging concepts of place, the intersection of community, engagement and social justice, and accessibility to the Geoweb.

Theme 6 Geoweb Political Economy

This theme will focus on understanding the political economy of the Geoweb as it concerns ownership structures, institutions, and policies. Power relationships between actors and processes of inclusion and exclusion among social media owners and users also will be our focus.