The Intersection of Data, Equity, and City Governments

Blog by Yuki Mitsuda: “The Open Data Policy Lab’s City Incubator program was established in September 2021 to help realize the Third Wave of Open Data at the subnational level by building data capacity among city intrapreneurs. In its first iteration, the program supported innovators from ten cities around the world to better use data to address the opportunities and challenges they face.

Reflecting on the six-month program, the work enabled participants to meet the needs of their cities and the people within them. They also revealed shared themes across cities — common challenges and issues that defined urban, data-driven work in the 21st century. This blog explores one of the emerging themes we saw from participants in the City Incubator program: the intersection of equity, data, and city governments…

Three of our city incubator participants designed their data innovations around the ways cities and citizens can use data to measure and improve equity. 

  • Jennifer Bodnarchuk, a Senior Data Scientist at the Innovation & Technology Department in the City of Winnipeg, for example, led the development of a Diversity Dashboard that quantified and visualized their municipal government’s workforce representation. The tool can be used to measure the level of diversity represented in city-wide employment to move towards equitable hiring in the public sector. 
  • Henry Xavier Hernandez, the Chief Information Officer at the Information Technology Department in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and his team leveraged the City Incubator to develop Citizen 360, a public market analysis platform that helps businesses, organizations, and individuals identify economic opportunities in the city. This tool can aid small business owners from all backgrounds who are navigating the journey of starting a new business.
  • Andrea Calderon led Albuquerque’s Equity Index, which helps evaluate the reach of city service distribution with the goal of increasing municipal investment in pockets of the city where equitable city service provision has not yet been achieved. Albuquerque’s Equity Index work entailed assessing air quality in the city through the framework of cumulative impacts, which measures “exposures, public health, or environmental effects from the combined emissions in a geographic area” in pursuit of environmental justice…(More)”.