Cities have many stakeholders and municipal decisions have an impact on communities and affect households. Harnessing the full potential of digitalisation and the tools it offers can help cities become more inclusive. Cities Alliance tested digital solutions to collect information on households in informal settlements and other excluded urban areas, identify their needs, and address critical infrastructure gaps.

Through enumeration and mapping, the STDM process has provided for interaction between the Mbale Municipal Council and the local community to establish the most pressing problems and come up with baseline information to address critical issues – thereby enhancing service delivery in Mbale.

– Angella Neumbe, Community Development Officer at Mbale Municipal Council, Uganda

STDM: A Pro-poor, Gender-sensitive, Land Information Tool, Uganda

The Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) is a land information management system developed by UN-Habitat through the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) partners. It integrates formal, informal, and customary land rights – reflecting the realities on the ground in many poor communities. Unlike previous enumeration tools that related a person’s name and address to land, STDM can relate personal identifiers, such as fingerprints, to a coordinate point inside a plot of land or dwelling. The main benefits of STDM are that it is flexible, affordable, and easy to share. Communities can use the system to easily collect accurate, reliable information about themselves, analyze the data, and generate quick reports. STDM was first piloted and replicated in Uganda with support from Cities Alliance. Years later, and given the success of the tool, Cities Alliance has also supported upscaling and institutionalization efforts in Kenya. Read more here and here

Database on Informal Settlements, Myanmar

Mapping Yangon – The untapped communities: Supported by Cities Alliance from 2015 to 2017, “Mapping Yangon” was the first time a large-scale and participatory database was produced in an urban setting in Myanmar, opening up new perspectives for policy-making and action.

The initiative helped fill the city’s data gap through comprehensive mapping, enumeration, and surveying of its informal settlements. It established a knowledge base on the scale and location of the settlements, as well as the dwellers’ living conditions, origins, and livelihoods.

The data collected generated valuable insights and helped to influence policy making, countering the government’s practice of forced evictions and fighting preconceptions about urban poverty.

For instance, the data showed that many informal residents are not migrants but impoverished urban dwellers who were previously homeowners or tenants in other parts of the city. 

Role of Data and ICT Systems for Generating Efficient Community Responses during the COVID-19 Pandemic

In 2020, the Platform for Cities of Global South, (an interactive platform whose purpose is to identify good city practices for managing the spread of COVID-19 in informal communities, mitigate its impact on vulnerable territories, protect the informal sector, and promote the exchange of these practices among functionaries of different cities of the Global South), organized three thematic sessions, where successful cases of cities’ responses to COVID-19 were presented, the importance for attending vulnerable communities of multi-stakeholder collaborations and partnerships among cities, other institutions and communities were highlighted, and the role of data and ICT systems for generating efficient community responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Online Data Platform for Urban Inclusion, East Jerusalem

Grassroots mobilization towards improved emergency responsiveness and slum upgrading in East Jerusalem: After a separation wall was built in 2002, more than 100,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem found themselves physically separated from the city, outside the Palestinian Authority’s territory but without access to services as residents of Jerusalem Municipality. As a result, these communities lack critical urban services (such as employment, education, and healthcare) and suffer from uncontrolled urban development.

Funded by Cities Alliance, the project mobilized and trained stakeholders in four neighborhoods to develop an urban database, which serves as an advocacy tool to engage decision-makers and donors on the transformation of these underprivileged areas.

The collected information was analyzed and reflected in assessment reports, maps, infographics, and an atlas for each neighborhood, which are all publicly accessible through an online data platform.