Successfully making civic datasets accessible to communities involves more than hosting them on a website. There are entire infrastructures that need to be aligned to ensure that those who need these datasets can access them in a timely, usable, and efficient manner. In this article, I use interviews and data ethnographies to draw attention to the operational context of a community’s civic data. This operational context includes the idiosyncrasies, forms of work, capital, and contingencies that I engaged with during the data infrastructuring process. Such an operational context, as Loukissas argues, is a consequence of the settings from which data are extracted, is required to better understand the shortcomings in the data and can help us draw more accurate conclusions from them. In using the Civic Data Guide to investigate the data settings, I also offer a methodological blueprint that other researchers can use when operationalizing civic data with their communities.


Dr Firaz Peer, is an Assistant Professor of Information Communication Technology in University of Kentucky’s School of Information Science. They study issues of accountability, justice, care, and equity that manifest when building, using and maintaining algorithmic and data infrastructures for marginalized communities – by combining participatory and design based research methods with scholarship from Human-Computer Interaction and Science & Technology Studies.

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