City data ecosystems between theory and practice: A qualitative exploratory study in seven European cities

Paper by Giovanni Liva, Marina Micheli, Sven Schade, Alexander Kotsev, Matteo Gori and Cristiano Codagnone: “The exponential growth of data collection opens possibilities for analyzing data to address political and societal challenges. Still, European cities are not utilizing the potential of data generated by its citizens, industries, academia, and public authorities for their public service mission. The reasons are complex and relate to an intertwined set of organizational, technological, and legal barriers, although good practices exist that could be scaled, sustained, and further developed. The article contributes to research on data-driven innovation in the public sector comparing high-level expectations on data ecosystems with actual practices of data sharing and innovation at the local and regional level. Our approach consists in triangulating the analysis of in-depth interviews with representatives of the local administrations with documents obtained from the cities. The interviews investigated the experiences and perspectives of local administrations regarding establishing a local or regional data ecosystem. The article examines experiences and obstacles to data sharing within seven administrations investigating what currently prevents the establishment of data ecosystems. The findings are summarized along three main lines. First, the limited involvement of private sector organizations as actors in local data ecosystems through emerging forms of data sharing. Second, the concern over technological aspects and the lack of attention on social or organizational issues. Third, a conceptual decision to apply a centralized and not a federated digital infrastructure…(More)”.

Citizens’ Assemblies Could Be Democracy’s Best Hope

Article by Hugh Pope: “…According to the OECD, nearly 600 citizens’ assemblies had taken place globally by 2021, almost all in the preceding decade. The number has expanded exponentially since then. In addition to high-profile assemblies that take on major issues, like the one in Paris, they include small citizens’ juries making local planning decisions, experiments that mix elected politicians with citizens chosen by lot, and permanent chambers in city or community governance whose members are randomly selected, usually on an annual basis from the relevant population.

Sortition, also known as democracy by lot, has been used to randomly select citizens’ assemblies in the Philippines, Malawi and Mexico. Citizens’ assemblies were used in the U.S. in 2021 to debate the climate crisis in Washington state and to determine the fate of a fairground in Petaluma, California. Indeed, whereas few people had heard of a citizens’ assembly a few years ago, a late 2020 Pew Research poll found that in the U.S., Germany, France and Britain, three-quarters or more of respondents thought it either somewhat or very important for their countries to convene them.

Though a global phenomenon, the trend is finding the most traction in Europe. Citizens’ assemblies in Germany are “booming,” with over 60 in the past year alone, according to a German radio documentary. A headline in Britain’s Guardian newspaper wondered if they are “the Future of Democracy.” The Dutch newspaper Trouw suggested they may be “the way we can win back trust in politics.” And in France, an editorial in Le Monde called for a greater embrace of “this new way of exercising power and drawing on collective intelligence.”…(More)”.

Towards High-Value Datasets determination for data-driven development: a systematic literature review

Paper by Anastasija Nikiforova, Nina Rizun, Magdalena Ciesielska, Charalampos Alexopoulos, and Andrea Miletič: “The OGD is seen as a political and socio-economic phenomenon that promises to promote civic engagement and stimulate public sector innovations in various areas of public life. To bring the expected benefits, data must be reused and transformed into value-added products or services. This, in turn, sets another precondition for data that are expected to not only be available and comply with open data principles, but also be of value, i.e., of interest for reuse by the end-user. This refers to the notion of ‘high-value dataset’ (HVD), recognized by the European Data Portal as a key trend in the OGD area in 2022. While there is a progress in this direction, e.g., the Open Data Directive, incl. identifying 6 key categories, a list of HVDs and arrangements for their publication and re-use, they can be seen as ‘core’ / ‘base’ datasets aimed at increasing interoperability of public sector data with a high priority, contributing to the development of a more mature OGD initiative. Depending on the specifics of a region and country – geographical location, social, environmental, economic issues, cultural characteristics, (under)developed sectors and market specificities, more datasets can be recognized as of high value for a particular country. However, there is no standardized approach to assist chief data officers in this. In this paper, we present a systematic review of existing literature on the HVD determination, which is expected to form an initial knowledge base for this process, incl. used approaches and indicators to determine them, data, stakeholders…(More)”.

The 2023 State of UserCentriCities

Report by UserCentricities: “Did you know that Rotterdam employs 25 service designers and a user-interface lab? That the property tax payment in Bratislava is reviewed and improved every year? That Ghent automatically offers school benefits to families in need, using data held by different levels of administration? That Madrid processed 70% of registrations in digital form in 2022, up from 23% in 2019? That Kyiv, despite the challenges of war, has continuously updated its city app adding new services daily for citizens in need, such as a map of bomb shelters and heating points? Based on data gathered from the UserCentriCities Dashboard, UserCentriCities launches The 2023 State of UserCentriCities: How Cities and Regions are Delivering Effective Services by Putting Citizens’ Needs at the Centre, an analysis of the performance of European cities and regions against 41 indicators inspired by The 2017 Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment.…(More)”.

German lawmakers mull creating first citizen assembly

APNews: “German lawmakers considered Wednesday whether to create the country’s first “citizen assembly’” to advise parliament on the issue of food and nutrition.

Germany’s three governing parties back the idea of appointing consultative bodies made up of members of the public selected through a lottery system who would discuss specific topics and provide nonbinding feedback to legislators. But opposition parties have rejected the idea, warning that such citizen assemblies risk undermining the primacy of parliament in Germany’s political system.

Baerbel Bas, the speaker of the lower house, or Bundestag, said that she views such bodies as a “bridge between citizens and politicians that can provide a fresh perspective and create new confidence in established institutions.”

“Everyone should be able to have a say,” Bas told daily Passauer Neue Presse. “We want to better reflect the diversity in our society.”

Environmental activists from the group Last Generation have campaigned for the creation of a citizen assembly to address issues surrounding climate change. However, the group argues that proposals drawn up by such a body should at the very least result in bills that lawmakers would then vote on.

Similar efforts to create citizen assemblies have taken place in other European countries such as Spain, Finland, Austria, Britain and Ireland…(More)”.

Advising in an Imperfect World – Expert Reflexivity and the Limits of Data

Article by Justyna Bandola-Gill, Marlee Tichenor and Sotiria Grek: “Producing and making use of data and metrics in policy making have important limitations – from practical issues with missing or incomplete data to political challenges of navigating both the intended and unintended consequences of implementing monitoring and evaluation programmes. But how do experts producing quantified evidence make sense of these challenges and how do they navigate working in imperfect statistical environments? In our recent study, drawing on over 80 interviews with experts working in key International Organisations, we explored these questions by looking at the concept of expert reflexivity.

We soon discovered that experts working with data and statistics approach reflexivity not only as a thought process but also as an important strategic resource they use to work effectively – to negotiate with different actors and their agendas, build consensus and support diverse groups of stakeholders. What is even more important, reflexivity is a complex and multifaceted process and one that is often not discussed explicitly in expert work. We aimed to capture this diversity by categorising experts’ actions and perceptions into three types of reflexivity: epistemic, care-ful and instrumental. Experts mix and match these different modes, depending on their goals, preferences, strategic goals or even personal characteristics.

Epistemic reflexivity regards the quality of data and measurement and allows for a reflection on how well (or how ineffectively) metrics represent real-life problems. Here, the experts discussed how they negotiate the necessary limits to data and metrics with the awareness of the far-reaching implications of publishing official numbers.  They recognised that data and metrics do not mirror reality and critically reflected on what aspects of measured problems – such as health, poverty or education – get misrepresented in the process of measurement. And sometimes, it actually meant advising against measurement to avoid producing and reproducing uncertainty.

Care-ful reflexivity allows for imbuing quantified practices with values and care for the populations affected by the measurement. Experts positioned themselves as active participants in the process of solving challenges and advocating for disadvantaged groups (and did so via numbers). This type of reflexivity was also mobilised to make sense of the key challenge of expertise, one that would be familiar to anyone advocating for evidence-informed decision-making:  our interviewees acknowledged that the production of numbers very rarely leads to change. The key motivator to keep going despite this, was the duty of care for the populations on whose behalf the numbers spoke. Experts believed that being ‘care-ful’ required them to monitor levels of different forms of inequalities, even if it was just to acknowledge the problem and expose it rather than solve it…(More)”.

DMA: rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets start to apply

Press Release: “The EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) applies from today. Now that the DMA applies, potential gatekeepers that meet the quantitative thresholds established have until 3 July to notify their core platform services to the Commission. ..

The DMA aims to ensure contestable and fair markets in the digital sector. It defines gatekeepers as those large online platforms that provide an important gateway between business users and consumers, whose position can grant them the power to act as a private rule maker, and thus create a bottleneck in the digital economy. To address these issues, the DMA defines a series of specific obligations that gatekeepers will need to respect, including prohibiting them from engaging in certain behaviours in a list of do’s and don’ts. More information is available in the dedicated Q&A…(More)”.

The power of piggybacking

Article by Zografia Bika: “An unexpected hit of the first Covid lockdown was Cooking with Nonna, in which people from all over the world were taught how to cook traditional Italian dishes from a grandmother’s house in Palombara Sabina on the outskirts of Rome. The project not only provided unexpected economic success to the legion of grandmothers who were then recruited to the project but valuable jobs for those producing and promoting the videos.

It’s an example of what Oxford University’s Paulo Savaget calls piggybacking, when attempts to improve a region build upon what is already there. For those in the aid community this isn’t new. Indeed the positive deviance approach devised by Jerry and Monique Sternin popularised the notion of building on things that are already working locally rather than trying to impose solutions from afar.

In a time when most projects backed by the two tranches of the UK Government’s levelling up fund have been assessed and approved centrally not locally, it surely bears repeating. It’s an approach that was clear in our own research into how residents of deprived communities can be helped back into employment or entrepreneurship.

At the heart of our research, and at the hearts of local communities, were housing associations that were providing not only the housing needs of those communities, but also a range of additional services that were invaluable to residents. In the process, they were enriching the economies of those communities…(More)”.

Building scenarios for urban mobility in 2030: The combination of cross-impact balance analysis with participatory stakeholder workshops

Paper by Sara Tori, Geert te Boveldt, Imre Keseru: “In recent years, scenarios have been increasingly used as a tool for helping decision makers deal with uncertainty, assess risks, enhance policy performance, expand creativity, and stimulate open discussion. In transport, scenario planning is an established method to help solve the mobility challenges of cities. In this paper, we propose a mixed-methods approach that combines cross-impact balance analysis with creative scenario planning workshops. CIB analysis was used to obtain raw scenarios that were enhanced with the output from creative workshops to obtain narratives and visuals to make the scenarios easily communicable. The approach was applied in five cities simultaneously. For each city, we developed three different scenarios for urban mobility by 2030. We found that developing the cross-impact matrix centrally and then adapting it to each city’s local context can significantly reduce the time needed for the analysis. In addition, the methodology employed can easily be adapted to the needs of local stakeholders. As it is a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, it is easily understandable for stakeholders, allowing them to fully participate in the process. The creative outputs in the form of narratives and images have helped to create results that are easy to communicate with the stakeholders…(More)”.

Data property, data governance and Common European Data Spaces

Paper by Thomas Margoni, Charlotte Ducuing and Luca Schirru: “The Data Act proposal of February 2022 constitutes a central element of a broader and ambitious initiative of the European Commission (EC) to regulate the data economy through the erection of a new general regulatory framework for data and digital markets. The resulting framework may be represented as a model of governance between a pure market-driven model and a fully regulated approach, thereby combining elements that traditionally belong to private law (e.g., property rights, contracts) and public law (e.g., regulatory authorities, limitation of contractual freedom). This article discusses the role of (intellectual) property rights as well as of other forms of rights allocation in data legislation with particular attention to the Data Act proposal. We argue that the proposed Data Act has the potential to play a key role in the way in which data, especially privately held data, may be accessed, used, and shared. Nevertheless, it is only by looking at the whole body of data (and data related) legislation that the broader plan for a data economy can be grasped in its entirety. Additionally, the Data Act proposal may also arguably reveal the elements for a transition from a property-based to a governance-based paradigm in the EU data strategy. Whereas elements of data governance abound, the stickiness of property rights and rhetoric seem however hard to overcome. The resulting regulatory framework, at least for now, is therefore an interesting but not always perfectly coordinated mix of both. Finally, this article suggests that the Data Act Proposal may have missed the chance to properly address the issue of data holders’ power and related information asymmetries, as well as the need for coordination mechanisms…(More)”.