Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Blog Series: Data, Privacy, and the Future of Trust in Public Institutions

Data and algorithms are a growing part of municipal government, public institutions, and administrative bodies. Predictive policing and recidivism algorithms in criminal justice, teacher evaluations and school bus routing in education, and health care administration in human services are just a few ways that data and algorithms are already applied in our civic lives.

During MetroLab Network’s 2020 Summit, we began to explore the relationship between civic technology and data privacy as part of our ‘Trust in the Public Realm’ panel, sponsored by the Future of Privacy Forum. Both COVID-19 and the resurgence in the fight for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd served as the backdrop against which our panelists discussed the simultaneous potential and danger that lies at the intersection of technology, data, algorithms, and civic life.

In continuation of this conversation, Garrett Morrow, Ph.D. candidate at Northeastern University and MetroLab’s Experiential Research Fellow during Fall 2020, met with members of our Summit panel and others to further dive into how data and algorithm use shapes trust in institutions, the availability of data and connecting with communities to use it, and different government models of public data use.

You can find the first blog post in this series, a deep dive with University of Michigan professor and author of The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future, Ben Green here. Additional posts in this series can be found below as we publish them over the course of the next few weeks.

Garrett Morrow is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Northeastern University. His dissertation looks at the politics and public trust of smart city policies, data, and algorithms. During Fall 2020, Garrett was also an Experiential Research Fellow with us here at MetroLab. His work was funded through the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern. Garrett can be reached at

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