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Data production is becoming an emerging trend in critical urban activism. Precise and reliable public information, including spatial and environmental information, serves individual and collective ‘right to the city’ beliefs. One of the common strategies adopted by contemporary urban movements to ensure the accuracy and inclusiveness of urban data production processes are various forms of counter-mapping, which we introduce in this paper as a perspective aimed in critical evaluation of urban environmental conditions in Polish cities. By process tracing of smog alerts and urban greenery movements, we investigate the main strategies of using such tools and their effects for both particular social actors, and general urban environmental policy. We argue that the core idea of a citizen-driven collection of geographical data is strongly supported by its other features – social involvement and collective production of visualizations illustrating the scale and dynamics of particular environmental problems. In this sense, counter-mapping is aimed rather at repoliticizing urban environmental data in order to critically evaluate existing urban policy, than just to ensure greater citizen involvement in environmental decision-making.


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Author Biographies

RENATA PUTKOWSKA-SMOTER, Polish Academy of Sciences

Renata Putkowska-Smoter is researcher at the IFiS PAN. She is interested in ambiguity and ambivalence towards nature and environmental protection and how they influence to conflicts, governance and politics at local and national level.

JAN FRANKOWSKI, Polish Academy of Sciences

Jan Frankowski is researcher at the IFiS PAN and analyst at the Institute for Structural Research. His interests cover opportunities and risks of the energy transition for households, cities, and regions.


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