Urban Big Data Analytics

Reviews of official statistics for UK housing have noted that developments have not kept pace with real-world change, particularly the rapid growth of private renting. We have examined how data extracted from the on-line adverts of one national lettings agency, validated against external sources and using spatial analytics can shed new light on local changes.

Big data produce new possibilities for generating understanding, with data science expertise and data-driven methods. There are a number of challenges in exploiting big data for social research purposes including unstructured formats, posing challenges for information retrieval and data integration and ethical challenges around identifiability of individuals. Our case study (Livingston et al, under revision) highlights two other challenges associated with new forms of data. The first is the political-economic dimension: that big data lie predominantly under the control of private companies, ownership is fragmented and predominantly held by a small number of leading technology companies in the digital economy. The second challenge is around veracity.