Urenio Watch Watch: Cities

Improving the resilience of cities using open data

This report “How can we improve urban resilience with open data?”, product of the work from the Open Data Institute and Open North, investigates whether urban resilience can be improved with open data. Based on the assumption that all data can be considered critical national infrastructure, it examines cases of people around the world working in urban resilience and open data communities.

Urban resilience describes a city’s ability to withstand, adapt and grow irrespective of the stresses and shocks they encounter, whether mandmade or natural. A large part of the work in urban resilience is focused around issues that are constantly changing and evolving, such as migration patterns, employment trends, natural disasters, demographics, climate change, industrial developments and disease.

Open data is a powerful tool which is being used around the world to build services and find insights to tackle urban challenges. The authors of the report suggest that it is time to bring the open data community and the urban resilience sector together to work on the complex urban problems.

In this context, this report suggests five recommendations and implementation approaches for policymakers working to improve urban resilience with open data:

  • Couple open data and urban resilience efforts to build a culture of openness
  • Assess and address similarities and differences in urban resilience work between low- and high-in-come countries globally
  • Close the open data capacity gap
  • Develop an agile approach to managing urban resilience
  • Cultivate business opportunities that address urban resilience issues

These recommendations are designed to be implemented concurrently; each recommendation relies and feeds into the next and the priority order may vary depending on the context.

One of the key points of their research stands out as a call to action

If we want to support increased collaboration between open data and resilience efforts, we must create and build robust local and global data infrastructure. Data infrastructure includes datasets; the technology, training and processes that makes them useable; policies and regulation, such as those for data sharing and protection; and the organisations and people that collect, maintain and use data. When we fail to maintain robust infrastructure, we reduce our ability to innovate.

The report includes a number of case studies that show how open data and openness can contribute to improving a city’s resilience. More specifically, the case studies include various sectors such as:

  • Housing
  • Physical Infrastructure
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Climate/Environment
  • Health/Aging populations
  • Networks/Community
  • Economic Development

This work is considered just the start of a wider discussion on open data and urban resilience that is open to interested parties to respond, revise and refine. At a later stage, the authors aim at co-developing a roadmap for action on open data and resilience infrastructure.