The vision, mission and thematic areas of UNITAC Hamburg are represented and materialized through three ongoing, quick-win projects. The areas covered pertain to spatial mapping, digital inclusion and digital rights.
Informal Settlements Mapping in the City of eThekwini, South Africa
The city of eThekwini, South Africa is home to over 580 informal settlements, comprising more than 314,000 households. Continued urbanization and a swingling supply of well-located land have resulted in a multitude of vulnerabilities experienced by its population. In addition, the city experiences regular severe storms, which heavily affects settlements, as many are located on unstable slopes and within flood plains.
Despite possessing extensive data on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), information on annual flood-lines is inadequate and limits the municipality to make informed decisions on disaster-management. As well, the ongoing land monitoring procedure struggles to keep up with the fast land-use changes. These challenges greatly affect the city’s capacity to respond efficiently to resident needs.
To develop a pipeline of upgrading and service delivery projects, the city needs accurate information about the number and location of informal structures, as well as environmental constraints that could prevent the provision of basic services and subsidized housing. In line with the vision and themes of UNITAC Hamburg, this project will enable the municipality to make informed decisions on improving the living conditions of informal dwellers in eThekwini, along with a reduced risk of natural disasters and prevention of other extreme vulnerabilities.
Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Prosperity in the State of Alagoas
This project aims to upgrade local capacity to produce and utilize data in planning processes and policymaking. An improvement of tools and methodologies for data collection and reporting designed specifically for the informal settlements of Maceio, Alagoas, is also within the periphery of the project’s aim: to develop an integrated urban development plan that leaves no one behind.
It applies the Observatory of Public Policies (OPP) and is influenced by the UN-Habitat global methodology of urban observatories. The implementation of observatories will tackle the issues of data gaps and national bias in data production that continue to prioritize national policies, which often oversee to address local needs. This leaves large populations and aspects of their lives unaccounted for.
With fast urbanization and the rising social demands brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, a functional data ecosystem will be important for approaching these obstacles and mitigating continuous patterns of under-representation and exclusion that affect residents in informal settlements – namely women and girls, children, elderly, disabled and other marginalized groups.
City Resilience Diagnostic Tool
Cities and communities are part of a larger system of cities. With the rapid pace of urbanization, risks of exposure to disaster and unforeseen shocks are steadily increasing. Cities are not static and continue to evolve; thus establishing constant assessments and analyses of urban settings and addressing factors determining resilience are investments towards fostering livable environments and positive change for all.
UNITAC Hamburg is supporting the digitalization of the City Resilience Diagnostics tool. It has been built to reduce risks and improve the resilience of urban systems by providing cities with information on potential shocks, vulnerabilities and stresses. While a methodology is already established, the tool requires an upscaling of operations to increase capabilities and to upscale to a much larger set of cities and communities.
With the tool upgraded, aspects of data collection and analysis, data security and database technologies will see an increase in efficiency. Additionally, evidence-based decision-making by local authorities will be improved, making implementation simpler across more cities globally.