Big Data and Urban Planning in Pakistan: A Case Study of The Urban Unit
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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.