From 25-27 September 2017, Cities Alliance organised a learning exchange and networking event for grantees of our 2014 Catalytic Fund Call for Proposals on the theme “Know Your City.”
Representatives from ten Cities Alliance-funded projects on innovative data and knowledge initiatives for cities came together in Brussels to exchange, learn from each other, and network with people working on the same issues. Eleven projects have received a total of USD 2 million in grant funding through the 2014 call; most have finished their activities now and demonstrate remarkable impacts.
The workshop began with grantees presenting their project’s context, key ideas, and results. Not only in their geographic distribution, but also in their activities the projects were diverse, ranging from grassroots informal settlement mapping, over the establishment of a community- radio channel, to a large scale mobile app providing crowdfunded information on public safety.
Throughout the three days, Cities Alliance organised six sessions on the topics of:
-- Innovative ways of collecting and using data
-- Employing ICT technologies to catalyse city change
-- Communication and advocacy
-- Engaging local communities and government
-- Tackling the global challenge of evictions
-- The importance of gender mainstreaming.
An additional highlight was the well-visited EU InfoPoint lunchtime conference where three grantees were invited to present to an external audience.
“We need to see the interconnectivity of our problems to design complex solutions” was a concluding note of our grantees. It illustrates the vivid learning exchange that took part and how they were able to draw parallels between their own projects and to find inspiration in each other’s approaches.
A workshop report will be available soon. This knowledge capture and transfer is an important part of the Catalytic Fund, in order to create value beyond the scope of the projects and provide opportunity for replication.
The Know Your City theme is an urgent and timely one. Cities of all sizes are growing and transforming, and despite major advances in information technology, accurate data on these fast-growing cities is scarce. This is especially true for low income areas, where the shortage of useful information often reflects and reinforces the social and economic marginalisation of the poor. Without the relevant information, it is very difficult for a city to make informed policy choices for the whole city and all citizens.
The choice of theme also reflects the Cities Alliance’s strong conviction that a better knowledge of cities – and innovative ways of achieving that knowledge – can bring the city government and its citizens together and help them engage with each other, build trust, share information, and improve accountability. These actions, in turn, support good governance and inclusive planning processes.
The “Know Your City” Catalytic Fund Call for Proposals is closely linked to the Know Your City! Campaign, an initiative of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), United Cities Local Governments-Africa (UCLGA), and Cities Alliance that seeks joint information collection to produce change in cities.