This roundtable discussion will explore the rise of new networked technologies and digital platform power in urban space and what it means for democratic governance in the city—all through the lens of the increasingly relevant question: who has a right to data?

Urban planner and open government expert Stephen Larrick will begin the session by presenting preliminary findings from his TAPP fellowship research cataloging over 70 novel public policies through which cities are mandating access to data from sharing economy companies, and in the process, he argues, attempting to reclaim sovereignty from the rising power of digital platforms. A panel of experts will then respond by discussing and debating the implications of platform data as a “medium of contestation” in the city. Discussion topics will include investigations of how exactly urban technologies have disrupted existing paradigms of power and control in urban space, what data collection and sharing might mean for privacy and surveillance, and what recommendations we might have for practitioners looking to foster data governance frameworks that bring about not only cities that are “smart” but just as well.


Stephen Larrick, Technology and Public Purpose Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and international Affairs / Harvard Kennedy School

Stephen Larrick is an urban planner and open government advocate who has worked at the intersection of cities and technology for over a decade. His previous roles include Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Central Falls, RI; Open Data Project Lead and Founding Director of the Open Cities Team at the Sunlight Foundation; and most recently Head of City Success for Stae, an urban technology startup building data management tools for local government users.

As an academic year 2021-2022 Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center, he is currently leading research and project implementation of the
Platform Urbanism Data Sharing (PUDS) Policy Hub, a searchable online catalog of novel public policies requiring digital platforms operating in cites to share data with local government authorities.

Stephen graduated from Brown University with a degree in Urban Studies and Political Philosophy and lives in downtown Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife Sarah and their dog, Panda.


Ellen Goodman is a professor at Rutgers University School of Law at Camden, specializing in information law and policy. Professor Goodman’s scholarship probes the appropriate role of government policy, markets, and social norms in supporting a robust information environment. She has focused recently on the future of public media and recently authored a book chapter entitled Public Service Media 2.0. This and recent law review articles are available at Professor Goodman has spoken before a wide range of audiences around the world, has consulted with the U.S. government on communications policy, and has served as an advisor to President Obama’s presidential campaign and transition team. She is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications and has visited at Penn’s Wharton School and Law School. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2003, Professor Goodman was a partner at Covington & Burling LLP where she practiced in the information technology area. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Professor Goodman was a law clerk for Judge Norma Shapiro on the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She lives near Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

Dr. Sarah Barns is a respected researcher and urban digital strategist in the area of city data strategy, smart cities and digital storytelling.

Her work over the past decade has taken place at the intersection of urban transformation, place-making and digital disruption. How technology innovation shapes our cities — our places, our infrastructures and our built and cultural fabric — has been a long term preoccupation.  

From 2013 Sarah has held an Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Western Sydney University where she has developed an international research program addressing the rise of the data economy as a major game-changer for cities and policy makers. This work has informed her writing on “Platform Urbanism” (including her authoritative book on the topic) and a set of strategy and consultancy projects with organisations such as Data61/CSIRO, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the NYU Centre for Urban Science and Progress and the ABC to facilitate data discovery and governance strategies underpinning smart city policies and digital engagement opportunities.

Sarah's work today builds on her early career in innovation policy and program development for organisations spanning the ABC, Arup, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Creative Industries Innovation Centre. For more of the story, visit Sarah's LinkedIn profile.

Rodney Stiles is a transport and labor policy consultant, former Head of Policy for the mobility data management platform, Populus, as well as the former Assistant Commissioner for Data & Technology at the Taxi & Limousine Commission, the City agency responsible for licensing and regulating taxis and other for-hire services in New York City, like Uber and Lyft. While at NYC TLC, Rodney’s team researched impacts of policies through big data analysis, liaised with technology companies who wanted to work in the for-hire ride hail space, and developed regulations and policies for the use of technology. 

Previously, he was a demographic analyst at the NYC Department of City Planning, responsible for creating long-range population projections. His interests include walking, biking, open data, and data visualization. He is a 2009 graduate of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.