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Accepted Paper:

Heterogeneous engineering and big data: the role of boundary spanners in Santiago’s public transport  
Ignacio Perez (University of Glasgow)

Short abstract:

This study investigates the changing landscape of expertise and authority among transport engineers in Santiago de Chile, as they navigate and shape the integration of big data within the city’s public transport system.

Long abstract:

This paper delves into the transformative effects of big data on the expertise of transport engineers in Santiago de Chile, underscoring the reconfiguration of professional boundaries and power within urban transport management. The advent of big data in the city's public transit system has challenged transport engineers to revisit and refine their approach to boundary work (Gieryn, 1983), leveraging their unique position to mediate between traditional engineering practices and the emerging demands of big data. Such involvement not only demonstrates their versatility but also underscores their pivotal role in facilitating the adoption of big data, thereby consolidating their established authority within Santiago’s public transport infrastructure.

The analysis reveals that by acting as boundary spanners (Levina and Vaast, 2005), transport engineers navigate the complex interface between technological advances and operational needs, consequently redefining their domain of expertise. Their efforts to connect different areas of knowledge among various stakeholders show a deliberate use of expertise to maintain and enhance their authority, indicating wider shifts in the power dynamics, the role of expertise, and the use of technology in managing urban infrastructure.

This research, grounded in the sociotechnical context of Santiago, illuminates how expertise contributes to incorporating data-intensive technologies into public transport. It highlights the importance of established disciplines and the distribution of power. This case study offers a perspective on how technical expertise and power are reconfigured with the development of data-intensive technologies, marking a significant shift in how urban infrastructure is managed and operated.

Traditional Open Panel P208
Expert no more? Digital technologies and the transformation of expertise
  Session 2 Friday 19 July, 2024, -