Devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, and are more and more connected to the internet. This phenomenon, called Internet of Things (IoT) allows for large amounts of data being produced, collected and used opening up for novel opportunities. Advanced algorithms make possible to analyze and visualize these data in novel ways. These processes of data production, analysis and use enable new forms of decisions making and judgements. However, these processes remain hidden and opaque to the public, and it is difficult to understand which data are used for which purposes, and how processes of public governance are informed and shaped by IoTs.
The InfraData project aims to study empirically how IoT-produced data are used in the public sector in three domains: welfare technologies, smart cities and environmental monitoring. Researchers will engage with a critical perspective to question and uncover how the use of IoT-produced data shape the way our society is governed. The use of IoT is not neutral but political and value-laden. The aim is to facilitate a critical debate and help society negotiate the use of IoT technologies in the public domain.
In 2018, the project group will disseminate results from phase 1 to the academic community and to the public, as described under ‘objectives’. Further, the project group wishes to strengthen its capacity to launch successful research projects in the intersection between technology studies and social science/the humanities. The following project summary will be the starting point for developing new proposals:
ICT artifacts referred to as Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling new forms of governance. However, we lack knowledge on how IoT actually takes part in processes of societal decision making, which data are made actionable, and to what extent they empower public organizations. This project will provide an understanding of how IoT arrangements transform processes of governance in the public sector. In order to investigate such processes, the project will draw on an interdisciplinary approach from the fields of Information Systems, Science and Technology Studies and Computer Supported Collaborative Work engaging infrastructuring as main concept. In this view, IoT enables novel forms of reality-shaping in which algorithmic phenomena play a central role. By conducting three longitudinal case studies in three areas of the public sector (city governance, healthcare and environmental monitoring) the project will examine how the use of IoT generated data enables, frames and constrains sense-making and interventions in the governance of the public sector. The project will facilitate wider critical debate and help the public realm negotiate the use of algorithms and IoT technology in society.