Big Data and Urban Planning in Pakistan: A Case Study of The Urban Unit
This Major Paper presents research on the use of big data for urban planning and smart cities in the global South. It does so through a case study of the use of data at the Urban Unit in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Based on a series of interviews and extended literature review, I trace the evolution of a science of cities and the growth of urban informatics and smart cities. I then define big data and discuss its related opportunities and limitations. The bulk of this Paper consists of a case study of the Urban Unit and research findings regarding the use of data in planning in Pakistan. A number of challenges to the use of data are identified, classified into challenges regarding data access and reliability, data literacy, and institutional challenges. A major finding is that the practice of urban planning in Pakistan is quite limited in a number of ways. The final chapter shares recommendations from interviewees and reflections on research findings, focusing on the politics of data. The paper ends by discussing future research directions.