Our World, Our Data: Taking Collective Responsibility for Citizen and Environmental Sensing

Pieter Franken, Safecast

Our World, Our Data: Taking Collective Responsibility for Citizen and Environmental Sensing

We live in a world increasingly driven by data and at a time in which the  amount of it is increasing exponentially. From information about environmental pollution to sensors in our neighborhoods, it has never been easier to access or to collect data. Most people don’t realize just how many kinds of data exist and how they can be used to empower—and sometimes  to disempower—people at a fundamental level.

On April 30, 2017 Safecast and the MIT Media Lab host a symposium, “Our World, Our Data: Taking Collective Responsibility for Citizen and Environmental Sensing.” Join us as experts from both the public and private sectors explore the issues surrounding environmental data, discuss the consequences and impact of its uses, and examine who we trust to work with our data and why.


8:30–9:00am: Continental breakfast (E14 - 6th floor)

9:00–9:15am: Welcome (E14-674)
Ted Leo, Master of Ceremonies

Sean Bonner, Safecast
Pieter Franken, Safecast
Joi Ito, Safecast / MIT Media Lab
Ethan Zuckerman, MIT Media Lab

9:15–10:15am: Keynote, "The ethics of data and responsible usage"
Beth Simone Noveck, NYU GovLab / Safecast Advisor

10:15–11:15am: Session 1 - Corporate Data
Matthew McKinzie, NRDC Washington
Andrew Young, GovLab / Data Collectives
Pieter Franken, Safecast
Corporations also fund and house large data sets, but by definition they publish the data that supports their financial goals and discard that which doesn’t. What happens to this lost research, and how can the same mistakes be avoided time and time again?

11:15–11:30am: Break

11:30am–12:30pm: Session 2 - Government Data
Natalie Evans Harris
John Wilbanks, Sage Bionetworks / Faster Cures
Sean Bonner, Safecast
People trust governments to collect and store many forms of data, but how can politics impact or interfere with these systems? With the future of some US Government data in question, we must ask if government is a trustworthy stakeholder, or should new processes be set in motion?

12:30 – 1:30pm: Lunch

1:30–2:30pm: Session 3 - Obscure Data
Daniel Lombraña González, SciFabric
Abhijit RS, EDF / ASW
Azby Brown, Safecast
Data exists, but if no one knows about it how beneficial can it be? From single source data to long forgotten research to faux-open purposely difficult to find data, in this session we look at how to make good use of these existing data sets.

2:30–3:30pm: Session 4 - Uncomfortable Data
Denice Ross, Police Data Initiative
Madeleine Ball, Open Humans Foundation
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair, NAIIC.org; Fukushima Nuclear Accident Commission
What facts don’t matter any more? What facts are uncomfortable? Where do facts bump up against biases? This session explores how politics and morality shape the usefulness of neutral data sets.

3:30–3:45pm: Break

3:45–4:45pm: Session 5 - Nonexistent Data
Jay Patel, ACH
Sarah Williams, MIT Urban Studies and Planning
Sean Bonner & Pieter Franken, Safecast
Many aspects of the world remain unmapped because data can be measured and collected in so many different ways. Do standards exist and if so, what are they? And is non-useful data even data?

4:45–5:00pm: Closing remarks

5:00–6:00pm: Post-symposium socializing with snacks for the road

We are at capacity! Looking forward to seeing everyone who registered this coming Sunday.

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