Analytics & Visualisation
Primary data collection, as well as data analysis and visualisation, are in some ways GCRO’s most significant research contributions. The Quality of Life (QoL) survey, run every two years, has become our flagship project. It has been complemented with other surveys and the building up of spatial data holdings, some from private sector providers with licences for use by staff and students at the two universities where GCRO is based. This data is synthesized and visualised in maps of the month and vignettes and made publically available in various innovative interactive applications such as the GIS interactive website, QoL survey viewer, the ward-profile viewer and the GCR barometer (see the Urban Data Gallery).
In this area of research we will continue to deepen our efforts, for example by expanding the biennial Quality of Life Survey in partnership with municipalities and provincial government departments, and through other initiatives to gather primary data on the city-region’s residents and businesses at scale. In addition we aim to enhance the analysis of our own data, especially through advanced spatial analysis using new big data and data visualisation techniques.
On the policy front, open access to data developed by or useful for government is a key issue. So too is the question of how geo-referenced data can be used to enhance understanding of social, economic, service-delivery and other trends and dynamics, and to enable more targeted government responses to these. Wherever possible GCRO works to promote open data access, inter alia through its own data-platforms, and to support so-called spatially enabled ‘g-government’ within the GCR.
To the extent that this research area is driven by a ‘smart city’ ideal, we ask critically what a ‘smart city’ really means for the GCR. And following some interesting research trends internationally (see for example Harvard’s Urban Theory Lab), we look to interrogate the epistemological biases and assumptions that underpin what, in the interests of policy, we typically seek to measure, map and visualise.