- Texas Tech University
“Urban data” is increasingly becoming synonymous with the redevelopment of informal settlements, where one billion people live in thousands of cities across the globe. Although urban data has made informality highly legible in places like Mexico City, São Paulo, and Bogotá, it often overlooks emergent forms in space – within families, their dwellings, and the construction of broader communities. This limitation impedes data synthesis for sustainable development, as well as concrete improvements to urban livability, equity, safety, and social mobility. These challenges emphasize the need for Sustainable Development Goals that actively empower citizens with tools to participate in the data processes that transform their own neighborhoods.
Many are beginning to recognize the shortcomings of data-driven urbanism, given that it often fails to integrate the needs of marginalized populations and the complex conditions that informality creates. And although major advances have crested enthusiasm for participatory planning in informal settlements, the technologies used to implement outcomes are inaccessible to the majority of public users. In recent years, this two-part problem – big data and citizen participation – has catalyzed a new generation of action research for partnerships that promote equitable, efficient, and multi-scalar development. This movement shares methods and tools for (1) linking citizen-sourced data collection to broader municipal mainframes; (2) visually communicating findings to permit communities leverage over the pace and direction of urban development; and (3) synthesizing data into outcomes within which new modes of urbanity can evolve. Collaborative data creation is transforming how citizens and their governments prioritize sites for upgrading. Understanding how will enhance decision-making related to the impact historical urbanization patterns have upon future development alternatives.
This side event will draw upon the research of the nine-country Latin American Housing Network (LAHN) based at the University of Texas at Austin (www.lahn.utexas.org) and its most recent partnership with CHAPA, an urban laboratory for citizen-sourced data in São Paulo, Brazil (www.chapa.io). It will specifically focus upon research outcomes that cross cut several of the United Nations Habitat Sustainable Development Goals, including (1) partnerships for the goals that reduce the growth of inequalities within planning processes and (2) industry, innovation, and infrastructure to enhance IT for improving upgrading and access to housing, sanitation conditions, and distribution of public services within informal settlements. The majority of the side event will highlight how LAHN and CHAPA contribute to the intersection of technology, participation, and housing production in the fields of public policy, urban planning, and architecture; and raise questions and strategies related to the use of tools for scenario planning, like ComuniDADOS, that help cities to become better places for citizens.