New project will provide practical support to increase impact of open data for open cities initiatives.
“Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda.” – John Wilmoth, Director, UN’s Population Division
Rapid urbanisation poses numerous challenges to city leaders. They must meet the diverse needs of urban dwellers: ranging from infrastructure and transportation, to education and healthcare. Identifying and developing solutions to these challenges is key to reaching development targets – and technology and data can play a key role. That’s why, today, we’re delighted to announce that we are partnering with Making All Voices Count to launch “Innovating for Open Cities” – a new project designed to harness open data’s potential to make fast-growing cities better, more efficient homes for their citizens.
Today, cities across Indonesia have begun setting up startup-inspired units and launching “Smart City” initiatives to harness technology and data for better planning, more efficient allocation of resources and “smarter” public administration. All too often though, these programmes fail to provide room for the involvement of citizens to help shape their cities and the policies that govern them. Globally however, a growing number of cities are starting to reverse this trend by launching innovative enterprises that combine the power of technology and data with an emphasis on empowering citizens to become “people-centred smart city initiatives”.
Open Data as an Enabler
At the Web Foundation, we believe that open data can be a key enabler for citizen participation, and nowhere is this more true than in cities. Making the data driving urbanisation open matters. When citizens, local government and small businesses all have access to the information that powers decision-making, they can bring their expertise together to tackle urban challenges more quickly and effectively.
Over the past two years, we’ve kick-started and fostered a number open data initiatives across cities in Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region:
- Under the leadership of Governor Ahok Basuki, the local government of Jakarta has embraced innovation, technology and data as tools for making the city administration more effective, transparent and responsive. We supported their endeavour to release open government data from various sectors, including the performance of national and subnational agencies. We also partnered with civil society organisations, such as the Indonesian Procurement Watch, to open procurement data in Jakarta. Now we’re enabling citizens and civil society to use this data to advocate for real change.
- In Banda Aceh we demonstrated tangible impact by bringing together government and civil society with the goal of addressing education and health issues, which has led to the creation and implementation of a local open data policy.
- Through our projects in Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Indonesia, and La Trinidad and Kidapawan in the Philippines, we explored beyond the network of open data practitioners and worked with organisations from other sectors, tackling topics such as education budget and fiscal transparency. Their fresh perspectives created alternative, innovative and adaptable ways to use open data to solve social problems.
By working together with local governments, civic groups, journalists and researchers, we have demonstrated the value of approaches that take the local context into consideration when using open data.
Our “Innovating for Open Cities” Project
Now, we will build on the success and momentum of these projects by explicitly focusing on “Open Cities”. We want to support innovators at the local level to develop and test open data-driven solutions that contribute to inclusive, sustainable and thriving open cities. Specifically:
- We will provide a space and a platform for activists, social entrepreneurs and civic hackers to come together. We will host a series of regular events that will allow for constructive dialogue and collaboration between diverse groups. For instance, government officials will be invited to talk about the supply side of government data, and in turn they can benefit from innovative ideas from its potential users. Likewise, civil society groups will be enabled to interact with technology and data experts to come up with joint approaches to tackle social, political and economic challenges with data.
- We will actively promote a culture of developing and testing data-driven, innovative ideas, prototypes and solutions to practical challenges. We will support individuals and organisations interested in harnessing the power of open data by mentoring them in their projects that seek to increase or hasten access, analysis, understanding, and dissemination of data to tackle cities’ most pressing challenges. We will cultivate five projects focusing on urban planning, environment, risk and disaster management, and procurement, and target already existing solutions that have the potential to be refined and scaled—we won’t reinvent any wheels. We are interested in co-creating and building tools, knowledge products, process maps, and services that would increase the potential of data from various sources to generate wider social and economic impact.
- In the big picture, we aim to influence policy-making. Through the Innovating for Open Cities project, we also aim to open opportunities for learning and influencing policy-making. We intend for the project to open avenues that allow for better understanding of the challenges faced by cities, how these challenges are addressed, and identify opportunities for action using open data. This will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the value of open data for Smart Cities programmes globally, and influence the public discourse towards a stronger emphasis on citizens rather than solely technology in the design and execution of such initiatives.
On the 26th of May, we will officially launch the Innovating for Open Cities project at the Hotel Alila in Jakarta. There, open data practitioners from several Indonesian cities will share their experiences on how local governments are opening their data, as well as how they engage with citizens to promote its use. We hope to foster discussions on how these data are relevant and could be used to create open, inclusive and thriving cities.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Innovating for Open Cities project—our Innovation and Engagement Manager, Antya Widita, will be managing it. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or message him on Twitter @AntyaWidita
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