Algorithmic Policies for Urban Security

Intervention by Florent Castagnino
Big Data Lives Symposium, Bern:
Sensing technologies – Imaginaries, Futurities, Practices of Control and Care


This panel critically engages with the field of urban security, focusing on data-driven policing practices in the UK, the US, Canada, and France.

Sensors and algorithmic machines expanding the human sensorium often come with the promise that efficiency and objectivity will overcome human errors. The proliferation of sensing technologies in policing has opened up an opportunity to think about the knowledge produced by this human-machine hybridity (Suchman 2021).

Data accumulation for predictive cartographies, heat maps, and automated object recognition marks a shift from reaction to more proactive and predictive forms of policing (Brayne 2021). In this panel, we closely investigate the combined energies of humans, sensory devices, software, servers, and interfaces that produce visual representations for policing processes. Doing research on predictive policing software in the UK and the US and on the work that consists in watching in video surveillance control rooms in Canada and France, we question technologized ways of sensing insecurities in urban spaces and their underlying epistemic regimes.

This panel invites to resist algorithmic fetishism (Monahan 2018) by discussing ethnographically informed accounts of sensing technologies in policing and to critically engage with theories of algorithmic governmentality/governance (Rouvroy and Berns 2013; Katzenbach and Ulbricht 2019; Issar and Aneesh 2022), data-driven managerialism (Benbouzid 2019), and the marketization of urban security in the era of digital capitalism.

Symposium Sensing Technologies, Bern, oct. 2023



Enseignant chercheur en sociologie au département siences sociales et de gestion, IMT Atlantique

Published on 03.11.2023

by Marine VASLIN