Past Event

Big Data and the Public Good

Array of Things Photo
photo from Array of Things website

How can Big Data serve the public good?

The Array of Things is an urban data-sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. This spring, the first wave of sensor nodes in the city’s block-by-block “fitness tracker” will go live.

Join us as we put the Array of Things in dialogue with recent work in the arts and humanities to explore critical questions about the role of technology in contemporary society.

What is the relationship between information technology, urban space, and the public good in the age of big data? Where do “smart cities” initiatives like the Array of Things – which doesn’t collect any information about individuals – fit into contemporary conversations about privacy and surveillance? How can the arts and humanities help our society think through these issues?

Alongside the discussion, we’ll also release the second issue of a chapbook set accompanying the Data, Democracy and the Human Story program series, featuring contributions from Chicago-area artists and writers.

Join us for a free copy of this limited-edition publication and an engaging, interactive conversation.

More on the Speakers

Marissa Lee Benedict headshotOriginating from Southern California, Marissa Lee Benedict is a sculptor, writer and avid amateur of many fields and disciplines. Motivated by a deep curiosity about the function and dysfunction of social, ecologic and industrial systems, her practice is one of active observation; of engagement; of instigation; of experimentation.

Currently based in Chicago, IL, Benedict lectures at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in Sculpture and Fiber & Material Studies, and works as the Program Coordinator for the Arts, Science & Culture Initiative at the University of Chicago.


Douglas Pancoast headshot

Douglas Pancoast is Associate Professor of Interior Architecture and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Along with Satya Mark Basu, he designed the custom enclosures for the sensor nodes of the Array of Things.


image from


This program is presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and is supported in part by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event.