About the Lab

“Big data” will not change the world unless it is collected and synthesized into tools that have a public benefit.

The Civic Data Design Lab works with data to understand it for public good. We seek to develop alternative practices which can make the work we do with data and images richer, smarter, more relevant, and more responsive to the needs and interests of citizens traditionally on the margins of policy development.

In this practice we experiment with and develop data visualization and collection tools that allow us to highlight urban phenomena. Our methods borrow from the traditions of science and design by using spatial analytics to expose patterns and communicating those results, through design, to new audiences.

Data Action cycle, show

Through the years of work, we have developed a distinct methodology called Data | Action, which is a creative process that involves building, analyzing, communicating results, and then ground-truthing the findings through site visits and interviews, reworking the analytics based on the input all along the way. Data | Action is an iterative process as each action informs the next and the work evolves. The results generate policy debates, influence civic decisions, and inform design to help ensure that the voices of people represented in the data are heard. Data | Action asks advocates of big data analytics to rethink how they work with data to make the process more responsive to the people their work impacts.