Speaking about the humans. Animal perspectives on the multispecies world

City governments increasingly use data to inform urban policies, including biodiversity conservation approaches. Data used to inform biodiversity conservation is gathered through citizen science applications (Hall et al., 2021), camera traps (Vella et al., 2021), bioacoustic monitoring (Welz, 2019), animal tagging (Kumar & Singh, 2018), and smart forests technologies (Gabrys, 2020; Nitoslawski et al., 2019; Prebble et al., 2021), among other initiatives. However, sensing technologies used to collect such data have been criticised for being human-centred (Gabrys, 2016), exercising control over nonhuman species (Adams, 2019), and representing them as statistics (Youatt, 2008). Acknowledging these critiques, Hovanec (2018) argues for recognising nonhuman subjectivities in biodiversity conservation approaches to counteract the positivist conception of human-nature relations. Taking up Hovanec’s concern, in this paper, we explore three urban specieshoneybees, birds, and treesand their communications through data, sensors, algorithms to propose concrete urban policies that can help cultivate more-than-human futures. By decoding the waggle dance, birdsongs, and tree-fungi talk, the paper grapples with the limitations of humans speaking for nonhuman species within politics. Drawing on Youatt, we further explore how multispecies data as a way of listening to ‘other’ species can offer practical guidelines for urban policymakers to realise an interspecies politics (Youatt, 2014) to strengthen the multispecies political networks in cities. Such politics can allow city governments to use data to collaborate with the multispecies lifeworlds and broaden urban communities to include species like bees, birds, and trees and establish more ethical urban governance in tune with other spatialities and temporalities.

The talk will be presented at Speaking about the humans. Animal perspectives on the multispecies world workshop in collaboration with Professor Marcus Foth and Professor Peta Mitchell.