The Embassy of Data, a multi-day programme during the World Design Event in Eindhoven, will aim to raise awareness of the possibilities and opportunities presented by data but also the threats and inadequacies. An exhibition, a varied programme of workshops and serious games, and an international conference will introduce visitors to some of the questions around data and its often invisible impact on our everyday lives. What data are being collected here? What kind of data will be stored, where, and for how long? Who is in charge? Which rules are being followed? The Embassy of Data will seek to help people understand a process that normally takes place invisibly and/or behind closed doors.The Embassy of Data concludes the three-year programme of De Staat van Eindhoven.
What questions should we ask to make the city smarter?
The Embassy of Data will aim to raise awareness of the possibilities and opportunities presented by data but also the threats and inadequacies. Cities around the world aspire to become cleaner, safer and more efficient through the use of data. To these ends, they use digital tools to process data, and increasingly also to produce it. Data collection and analysis are being put to use in the attempt to find solutions to more and more problems, including social ones. Problems often crop up with data protection and interpretation, however. What’s more, not everything can be conveyed in the form of pure data. When it comes to subjects such as loneliness and social cohesion, true “data deserts” exist. Building a smarter society, then, begins not with collecting more data but with collecting the questions that matter to the community.
The Embassy of Data will comprise an exhibition Living Data and a lab staffed by students and DATAstudio employees. The exhibition will help in collaboration with designer Richard Vijgen the public to understand and experience some of the issues around data and its often invisible impact on our everyday lives. The Embassy of Data will serve as the centre of an area. Within this space, we will collect as much data as we can about the visitors and the area. What data are being collected here? Where are the sensors and the cameras? Where and how is your phone tracked via Wi-Fi? Which Dutch and international companies and municipal agencies will get access to the information gathered? What kind of data will be stored, where, and for how long? Which laws apply? Who is in charge? Which rules are being followed? The Embassy of Data will seek to help people understand a process that normally takes place invisibly and/or behind closed doors.
The exhibition will provide a spatial and substantive context for the lab, the heart of the embassy. Here, we’ll be hard at work collecting, processing and interpreting “soft”, more qualitative information. The Embassy of Data argues not just that government and business should make an effort to increase transparency around their use of data but also that hard data should always be enriched with soft information. Only in this way will it be possible to fully perceive the needs, wishes, changes, and underlying sentiments in society. The Embassy of Data will therefore invite the audience to supplement the available hard data with soft information by taking part in interviews and activities on site.