Mr. Tam Hoang, Urban Development Specialist, UN-Habitat
Digital technology now captures over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily from mobile phones and other technologies, but the ownership of such data, disclosure obligations and the access to such data in the public and economic interests of the city is unfortunately not well-used nor understood by municipalities. The lack of municipal standards governing data disclosure by non-state actors results vast amounts of citizen data being captured and retained, often in contravention to transparency and citizens’ right to information and privacy. Too often, the state is also at the mercy of vendors that offer expensive and complicated solutions that obscure the real capacity development work and stakeholder engagement/mobilization that needs to be done. ‘Smart’ Governance ought to consider ownership, control, access and usage of data held by all the stakeholders of data ecosystems capturing the data about the city, and its citizens. UN-Habitat’s Flagship Programme on Smart Cities also aims to assist cities in emerging economies to strengthen their data governance capacities (such as developing city-wide open data specifications for a wide variety of services) by mobilizing not just official data, but private sector and informal sector actors in data sharing and citizen co-creation of services data application programming interfaces (APIs).
Local governments in low-income developing countries and least developed countries continue to face digital governance capacity gaps – many cities and municipalities struggle to access information and regulate the disclosure of the same. In some Asian cities the lack of data standards and lack of data disclosure regime for private / non-government mobility operators have led to the uncontrolled proliferation of private operators of bike-share schemes resulting in mass abandoned bicycle ‘graveyards’ -- a symptom of a ‘smart’ tech solution for climate smart mobility which has now bloomed a public nuisance resulting in exorbitant costs upon the city to sort out the waste disposal issues having ‘unsmart’ consequences. It is not about a lack of digital infrastructure and technology, but rather in how technologies are applied, engaging stakeholders in a participatory way to share data critical to improve the fair and inclusive quality of life for all citizens and smooth, efficient, transparent and accountable delivery of municipal services.
Mr. Andre DZIKUS, Coordinator, Urban Basic Services Branch, Acting Coordinator, Risk Reduction and Rehabilitation Branch, UN-Habitat (email@example.com)