Undoing Optimization explores how city life has been reconfigured by our use and our expectations of communication, data and technologies which use sensors to acquire information, often offering real-time monitoring. The book looks at all three of these kinds of systems, highlighting how their introduction into cities has produced new dynamics around rights, access and civic action. It reminds us that data is not costless, not free from power imbalances and not ahistorical.
The process of technological optimization configures citizenship as an action that, in its ideal form, contributes data to processes that streamline effective delivery of services. This narrows what citizenship becomes, and also intensifies the tendency towards operation decision-making being based on what data is available, and which kinds of outcomes are easiest and most logical to produce.