What is the question that this project addresses?

     Keywordscity dashboards, big data, urban informatics, data analytics, smart cities, multimedia, visualisation, modelling, querying, prediction, simulation, HCI, open data, open science

The Building city dashboards (BCD) project seeks to determine how to build more extensive and effective city dashboards.  It aims to develop new tools that extend beyond data visualisation tools to provide robust data analysis and decision support frameworks that can be used by experts and citizens alike.


There is a long history of cities generating data about their form and activities and distilling such data into information and knowledge to manage and control urban operations and guide and evaluate public policy. Since the mid-1990s a plethora of urban informatics systems have been developed and adopted by cities seeking to measure and monitor various aspects of urban systems and compare intra- and inter-urban performance using official statistical and public administration datasets (Foth 2009; Kitchin et al., 2015). More recently, these systems have been extended to accommodate the proliferation of real-time data generated through sensors, cameras and locative/social media (Kitchin 2014).  These data have mostly been made sense of through interactive visualisations and analytical dashboards either displayed in city control rooms or more recently made available to the public via the internet.

Dashboards provide a visual means to organize and interact with data, using maps, graphs, charts, gauges, 3D models and other visual analytics that are dynamic, interactive, and inter-linked (Few 2006). City dashboards are seen as providing present and future critical infrastructure for the smart city, enabling city managers to efficiently and effectively operate a range of urban services in real-time, formulate evidence-based policy and create better city plans through simulating city developments, and empowering citizens and businesses by sharing information that will facilitate participation, improve quality of life, and foster entrepreneurship (Batty 2013). However, there are a number of significant fundamental, technical and practical issues that require research attention to enable such smart city outcomes. These issues can be divided into three main sets of problems.


  1. Data problems: establishing and ensuring data quality and veracity; dealing with ecological fallacies; creating and implementing new data standards; handling and combining varied datasets (structured, semi-structured and unstructured data); processing and archiving realtime data; producing new official statistics based on big data;
  2. Visualisation and interaction problems: producing effective visualisations and visual analytics; creating optimal visualisations for different devices and platforms; developing augmented reality and alternative data presentations; improving user experience and social interaction with data;
  3. Analytics/modelling problems: moving beyond visual analytics to perform data analytics, statistical modelling, and generate and evaluate predictions, simulations, and optimisations.


The aim of the project is to tackle these three sets of problems in a systematic and rigorous way by significantly extending on-going research that has built one of the most comprehensive public city dashboards internationally – the Dublin Dashboard. Built in partnership with Dublin City Council, the Dublin Dashboard collates and visualises through interactive maps and graphs a broad range of data about the city including indicator data, real-time data, official statistics, public administrative data, and operational data. It is designed to enable city officials, the public and companies to explore and analyze the wealth of data generated about the city.


The objective of the BCD project is to use a lighthouse/follower model of development to create a test-bed for developing city dashboards (Dublin) that will help solve the three sets of problems and to test its transferability to and implementation in a second city (Cork). In so doing the project will produce insights, new techniques and solutions of fundamental relevance to urban dashboard developers, city managers, projects working with urban big data and developing smart cities, and the open data movement, using a holistic and interdisciplinary approach (computer science, geocomputation, spatial statistics, multimedia). To facilitate such work the project will extend the working partners to include Fingal County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Dublinked (which includes the two other Dublin local authorities), the Central Statistics Office (CSO), and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI).


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  • Batty, M. (2013) The New Science of Cities . MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Few, S. (2006) Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data.
  • Foth, M. (ed) (2009) Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City. IGI Global, New York.
  • Kitchin, R. (2014) The real-time city? Big data and smart urbanism. GeoJournal 79(1): 1-14.
  • Kitchin, R., Lauriault, T. and McArdle, G. (2015) Knowing and governing cities through urban indicators,city benchmarking and real-time dashboards. Regional Studies Regional Science 2: 1-28.