Urenio Watch Watch: Collaborative Innovation

Data and the City Report

Data and the City: How Can Public Data Infrastructures Change Lives in Urban Regions? report, produced  by Jonathan Gray and Danny Lämmerhirt, aims to shed light on aspects referring to the ways in which data can play an essential role in tackling emerging issues from the rapid urbanization process.

Two of the main questions this report focuses on include:

  • What is the action repertoire available to civil society actors to open up local data and to enlist it into the service of tackling urgent issues in their cities?
  • What can government officials do to make public data infrastructures more responsive to the interests and concerns of different civil society actors?

The paper is based on six case studies looking at civil society participation around data infrastructures in cities around the world. It concludes with a set of recommendations for civil society and public institutions to make urban data infrastructures more responsive to the needs of civil society.

Moreover, another important issue that is stressed  is the fact that the United Nations has called for a “data revolution’, suggesting that data may play a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as in addressing other social concerns.

Data infrastructures can play an important role in enabling civil society groups to mobilise and obtain progress around city issues they care about ‘“ including through raising awareness around their concerns, coordinating action, facilitating communication and collaboration with government agencies, and influencing urban governance and policies. Their capacities to achieve beneficial outcomes for urban regions are intertwined with public information systems which shape and support these actions through the creation, aggregation, analysis and publication of data.

Finally, a number of important contributions of the new data infrastructures are mentioned in this report, referring to their importance towards identifying spaces for intervention; opening spaces for accountability; enabling scrutiny of official processes, institutional mechanisms and their effects; changing the way an issue is framed or perceived; and mobilizing community engagement and civic activism.

You can find the full report here.