Thematic Areas

Open, Transparent and Participatory Governance of Data and Digital Platforms

Recognizing that data and digital platforms are having a profound effect on urban life, there is a growing need to ensure that local governments and other actors enhance the positive role of technology while safeguarding against its negative effects.

Cities should have an active data governance strategy that includes making local government information open, transparent and accessible. This requires a new approach to data including functioning regulatory environments that build trust between citizens, governments, private companies and investors. Key issues, for example, include interoperability, procurement, public-private partnerships, digital inclusion and digital rights, and ethical issues that are related to privacy and security.

UNITAC Hamburg is testing approaches, developing technology and producing guidance on open and transparent digital governance for local and national governments.

Mapping, Spatial Analysis, Data Analytics and Visualization

New technologies such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing, big data, augmented and mixed reality or drones have the potential to play a key role in urban development; for example, by improving urban planning, optimizing transport systems, collecting spatial data or visualizing important information for citizens.

Approaches such as counter-mapping and "mapping the unmapped" can help improve our understanding of informal settlements and improve service provision while ensuring that services reach the most marginalized communities.

UNITAC Hamburg is testing and applying a wide range of new software and hardware that can be used by urban managers and others for mapping, spatial analysis, data analytics and visualization of urban trends and data.

People-Centred Smart Cities

In recent years the idea of the "smart city" has emerged as an approach in which technologies are used to improve urban efficiency, quality of life and sustainability.

The New Urban Agenda calls for the adoption of a smart city approach that makes use of digitalization, clean energy and technologies. However, in too many smart city projects, technology is applied uncritically and without considering the real needs of cities, the people that live in them or the broader aims of sustainability and inclusion.

At the same time, many local governments lack the capacity and strategic vision to procure appropriate technologies that meet their needs. The field is in danger of stagnation, perpetuating ongoing exclusion, and needs an injection of fresh thinking.

By taking an approach that is centred around the real needs of cities and their citizens including marginalized communities, UNITAC Hamburg is developing proofs of concept that are appropriate and contribute to inclusive and sustainable development.