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Postdoc on Urbidata: ethics for the (open) data driven city

Ethics for the data driven city of 2050

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2790 - € 4402 per maand


Nearly eight billion people and their devices produce unimaginable amounts of data, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Data on all aspects of human existence, that promise, in combination with increasingly powerful computers and the application of Artificial Intelligence, mankind the opportunity to influence all aspects of life. This will be especially the case in the urban setting. The concept of the 'smart city' assumes that the flows of data that the city and its residents produce will lead to better (after all ‘smart’) solutions for designers, industry and, at the end, citizens. For example, the smart city will be a better planned city, smart mobility will allow for efficient and safe use of space and time, and a smart home will be able to cater optimally the daily needs of the user, based on the personal profile as determined on the basis of the available data.

However, these technology driven perspectives leave the question open how we want the life in the data-driven city of 2050 to look like. The choices we make today determine our world of tomorrow. Taking this perspective it is clear that the development of our data-driven future cannot be just a question of engineering and the economic models supporting the solutions. Should all possible development and use of data-driven solutions (e.g. by architects and urban planners) be permissible in the light of the consequences? How about values as autonomy, privacy, transparency and consent?

Although the posed question of the interpretation of the data-driven city appears at first sight a question of policy, which could lead (or not) to the creation of a normative (legal) framework setting standards via enforceable rules, a crucial discussion should precede this: what are the ethical concepts and principles that guide us in determining what solutions are right or wrong? Data ethics are needed to be able to answer the crucial question: how to safeguard the human dimension in a data-driven world?

The post-doc will research the relevance of applied ethics in the domain of the data driven city by:

- Researching cases to identify concrete ethical issues within the field of the data driven city;

- Researching main principles of data ethics (data ownership, autonomy, openness, privacy, transparency, consent) using the relevant theoretical background from the domain of ethics;

- Identifying the concepts and principles that guide us in determining what solutions are right or wrong?


Applicants must have:

- a proven background in (philosophy of) law, and a strong affinity with digitalisation, (geo)data and urban challenges;

- hold a PhD degree in an appropriate discipline;

- have teaching experience at university level;

- be committed to research excellence, evidenced through academic publications;

- possess good communication skills;

- access to an international network in ethics and urban studies;

- a strong publication profile.

In addition, the candidate is expected to have an international profile with an active international network. Demonstrated ability in written and spoken English is required. Knowledge of Dutch is welcome, but not required.


Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

Additional information

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers both in business and in a social context. TU Delft offers 16 Bachelor’s and 32 Master’s programmes to more than 23,000 students. Our scientific staff consists of 3,500 staff members and 2,800 PhD candidates. Together we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!