Data governance clinics: A new approach to public-interest technology in cities

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This white paper gives an account of a series of ‘data governance clinics’ run during 2019-2021. A governance clinic is an exercise to align data governance with the public interest. In a governance clinic, participatory action research is used to understand what issues a particular technology project raises, and how data governance processes and architectures can be used to address risks and stabilise a project’s benefits to the public.

The aim of this white paper is to enable other groups to design and run their own governance clinics, and to debate new structuring for the ways that tech and ethics are addressed in urban governance. To do so, we will outline what makes a governance clinic different from other types of intervention, and key questions to consider in the process.

What the governance clinic approach offers is a reflection on the shape of governance architectures and the arrangements of power within them, which determine whose ethics gets foregrounded and what power over people in the city accompanies that foregrounding. In practice, we found that the solid governance architectures in place to protect the public from unwanted negative effects focus entirely on data protection and personal data, and that there is only fuzzy, or in fact negative, protection in place for the public interest more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherTilburg University
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Public interest
  • data governance


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