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ODI says open data can boost urban resilience

03/01/17

Report highlights need for strong infrastructure and common language between communities

Resilience planners in cities should work more closely with open data specialists to build up the resistance to natural and manmade stresses and shocks, according to a report on the subject.

City of London from The ShardThe Open Data Institute (ODI) teamed up with Canadian body Open North to produce How can we improve urban resilience with open data? Published last month, the document focuses on how open data can be used to beef up cities’ resilience planning.

It says the key message is a need for robust local and global data infrastructures, including the relevant organisations, datasets, technology, training, policies and regulation.

It also emphasises that the two communities have not worked much together so far, and comes up with five recommendations to make it easier for them to do so.

Openness culture

First is to build a culture of openness in open data and urban resilience efforts, so that information and ideas do not get stuck in silos. The groups also need a better understanding of each other’s priorities and jargon to avoid getting lost in unfamiliar language.

Second, they should size up the similarities and differences in urban resilience work between low and high income countries. Poorer countries tend to have a lower grade IT infrastructure which affects the availability of data, and their efforts to open up data are usually related to government transparency rather than encouraging people to re-use it in new solutions.

Third, there is a need to close this “data capacity gap”. This is likely require data audits, and campaigns to open more data related to urban resilience with an emphasis on its quality and standards.

Fourth, there is a need for an agile approach in managing urban resilience. This can help to increase the use of open data in crisis situations.

Fifth, cities should cultivate business opportunities that address resilience issues. Opening up data on resilience can businesses give businesses a chance to develop new solutions and make money, helping to boost local economies and create jobs.

More work needed

In an ODI blogpost on the report, consultant Jessica Weeraratne says not enough has been done so far to bring the two groups together.

“While the urban resilience and open data communities are looking at similar issues, more work needs to be done to couple their efforts and build a culture of openness,” she says. “One way to overcome this challenge is to use existing trusted networks to encourage collaboration and bring together the open data and urban resilience efforts.”

She adds that both sides are working on many of the same issues but need a common language to work together.

The ODI emphasises that the paper is aimed at prompting more discussion to develop the ideas further.

Image by Davide D’Amico, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr

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