Cities Alliance and its partners captured and disseminated knowledge and advocacy on digital solutions for urban resilience, smart technologies for more equitable city economies, digital learning platforms, advocacy on the digital divide, and digital storytelling.

City data is not just about infrastructure; city data has to also be about the communities that are part of the cities. It can be magical and localize solutions and make cities far more inclusive and sustainable.

- Renu Khosla, Director of the Urban and Regional Centre of Excellence

Data for Urban Resilience: Digital Technologies as an Enabler of Resilience

Cities Alliance with IIED led a session focusing on innovative data collection and usage approaches for urban resilience at the Innovate4Cities Conference in October 2021. Watch the video here

Digital Learning Platform for Resilient and Sustainable Cities

A knowledge-sharing digital platform for cities was developed by the company Gaiasoft, which aimed to connect stakeholders and track progress within and across African cities, as part of Future Cities Africa. 

Digital Cities: Community Data Matters

On 15 December 2020, Cities Alliance, in cooperation with All India Institute of Local Self Government (AIILSG) and UCLG, hosted the webinar “Digital Cities: Community Data Matters”. This was the third event from the initiative #Platform4CitiesofGlobalSouth, a collaborative space for cities to interact and share knowledge and local experiences, on how to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

The webinar explored the role of data and information and communication technology (ICT) systems in the creation of efficient community responses, with study cases from Mexico, India and Peru. The webinar was divided into two rounds, the first one focussing on presentations from cities' representatives, and the second addressing issues and challenges through a panel discussion. Read more here.

UHPH: Digital Space for Regional Knowledge Sharing

Launched in June 2018, the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub (UHPH) is an open platform for organisations committed to improving housing conditions for the urban poor in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. The Cities Alliance has played a crucial role in establishing the UHPH and getting it off the ground.

The UHPH combines a digital space with in-person interactions where people can connect and access information about housing in the region, linking policy and planning efforts with practitioners on the ground. It helped develop direct and pragmatic responses to the region’s urgent housing challenges and demonstrate the immense potential of innovation at the local level, and the scale achieved by removing legal barriers and designing frameworks more connected to LAC’s urban, informal reality at the national level. The UHPH is already having a wider regional impact and is serving as the housing pillar for an urban platform that is being established by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL). Read more here.

Advocacy on the Digital Divide during COVID-19

The Cities for Women Programme published a blog on how the COVID-19 crisis is temporarily changing urban social relations. From public spaces to our perception of safety, from care responsibilities to the use of digital technology, the emergency highlights existing inequalities and offers the possibility of looking at our cities from a new and unexpected perspective – that of women.

It highlighted a reality exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic: the gender divide in access to the internet, especially in the Global South where it is at 32.9%. Rather than going back to the old normal, it challenged us to reimagine cities that would embrace digital technology and online spaces that promote connectedness and autonomy for women and girls around the world. Read more here.

Advocacy to the African Development Bank 2021

Digital technology in secondary cities was a key theme in the Central Services Paper, developed by Cities Alliance to support the development of the African Development Bank’s sustainable urban development strategy which will guide its urban activities for the period 2021–2025 (SUDAP).

The SUDAP papers were articulated around key areas: Governance, essential services, mobility, housing, circular economy, climate change, and resilience. It provided recommendations based on transformative approaches to infrastructure development in Africa, in countries such as Togo. Kenya and Uganda. Read more here.

Smart Technologies for More Equitable City Economies

Cities Alliance produced the “Smart Technologies for More Equitable City Economies” publication that seeks to investigate and collect cases in which the application of new smart technologies in cities has fostered a more productive and inclusive environment for the urban poor. Solutions enabled by new technologies; driven by the needs and agency of the urban poor.

The study investigated two case studies in Bangalore, India (waste e-management) and Arusha, Tanzania (pay-as-you-go solar systems). It highlights the challenges in cities of the Global South, the conditions, actions to be taken, and recommendations for multi-stakeholder arrangements that can allow technologies to be used to foster more equitable economic development. Read more here.

Digital technologies and access to basic services in the Global South – Economic Growth Programme & Innovation programme, 2020

An article written by Cities Alliance for the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) publication “Inclusive Digital Economies for the Sustainable Development Goals” highlighted how modern technologies can support basic service provision in cities.

The article "Digital Technologies and Access to Basic Services in the Global South" tackled the smart city concept and called on investments in digital technologies in cities to carefully consider local context rather than standard approaches to ensure that it leaves no one behind. This could be done though a collaborative approach that was implemented projects in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Cocody, Côte d’Ivoire. Read more here

Information for Transformation

The publication “Do You Know Your City? Results from collaborative data initiatives to drive innovation in cities” documents results from the Innovation initiative “Know Your City!” and aims to contribute to the debate on data and cities by highlighting 11 innovative data initiatives that represent diversity in implementing organisation, contexts, policy sectors and approaches for data collection and use.

It highlights common characteristics and challenges that Cities Alliance hopes will inspire other local actors to explore new ways of using data and information to get to know and transform our cities. By providing seed funding as well as access to networking and learning, Cities Alliance empowers its grantees to transform their communities and cities, catalysing the innovative potential within those spaces. Read more here.

Micro Funds and Technology for Tenure Security in African Cities

Tenure insecurity in Africa is a complex issue. Technology can play a key role by making land tenure management more accessible, transparent, and efficient, both for city authorities and the urban poor.

The publication “Securing Tenure in African Cities: learnings from five small-scale, incremental innovations led by local NGOs and social entrepreneurs” shows the potential of inclusive, bottom-up solutions mixing the use of modern technologies and participatory approaches to help address some of the challenges linked to tenure insecurity. It analyses five pilot projects in DRC, Zanzibar, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Kenya, as part of the Innovation Programme. Read more here

Digital Tools to Promote Climate Action

The report “Stronger partnerships and local innovations: tackling new climate realities in cities” highlights key lessons learned from the implementation of projects in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda that successfully bridged local governance with community action.

It also presents recommendations in support of community-driven climate action in urban areas through citywide infrastructure, digital tools, policy changes at the municipal and national levels, inclusive development and increased climate adaptation funding. The report also draws on global debates and emerging consensus among expert researchers and practitioners in the field of community-driven climate adaptation and resilience. Read more here

Digital Storytelling for Climate Resilient Livelihoods, Kenya

A creative project financed by Cities Alliance sought to aid Korogocho, one of Nairobi’s largest slum neighbourhoods, adapt to the impacts of climate change. Future Yetu (Our Future) has employed digital storytelling as a way to spark dialogue between residents and policymakers on climate adaptation interventions, engage the greater Korogocho community and local government in innovating and sharing smart solutions, and enable collaboration on climate adaptation ideas that could form the basis of future policy, especially regarding how the Korogocho community can create climate change-resilient livelihoods.

Capacity building was provided by the project team and young participants had a special role to play in partnering with older ones and supporting with the tech tools used.