Data Commoning in Tai O Village: History, the Urban Periphery, and Technology in Spatial Agency Practice

Daniel Keith Elkin, Chi Yuen Leung, Xiaolu Wang, Markus Wernli

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


This presentation concerns spatial agency research conducted in Tai O Village, a settlement in Hong Kong. Tai O is a fishing village transitioning to a tourism-development economy. Throughout the 20th century prohibitions on fishing in the Pearl River Delta increased the Village’s reliance on tourist visitation and related development. International and regional audiences visited Tai O for its setting, former salt production pans, and distinct pang uk stilt houses, a trend that persists at the regional level in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hong Kong Government formally supported this trend in 2017 with the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint, a planning strategy document that designates Tai O as a cultural and ecological tourism center. As infrastructure projects, publicity, and research initiatives make the Village more visible to regional and international audiences, stakeholders interviewed expect tourism development and traffic in the village to increase, potentially beyond sustainable levels. In part because of contradictions between contemporary and Colonial legacy policy, Tai O Village faces dilemmas as an interface between rural and urban: Village residents are subject to regional strategy incentivizing tourism development, but neither able to fully participate in nor regulate the consequences of this strategy. In this impasse, researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University responded in a spatial agency living lab format, structured around collaboration with local administrators, stakeholders, and third-sector activists. Of particular focus for this presentation is a recently launched pedestrian traffic flow monitoring project. The project uses accessible, visible, and inexpensive technology to monitor traffic rates as points connecting Tai O Village to regional infrastructure, presenting this data back to Village residents in pursuit of a data commons. The hypothesis is that this approach, initiated at a particularly complex point of rural-urban interface, will support stakeholders’ greater collaborative and agent participation in decisions defining Tai O’s future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
EventInternational Association for the Study of the Commons 2021 Urban Commons Virtual Conference - Online
Duration: 6 May 20218 May 2021


CompetitionInternational Association for the Study of the Commons 2021 Urban Commons Virtual Conference
Internet address


  • Commons
  • Data Commons
  • Smart City
  • Spatial Agency
  • Tai O
  • Stilt House Communities
  • Urban Commons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Development
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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