Public Life and Shared Data

Earlier this summer, Gehl was involved in a collaboration between the Copenhagen Municipality and Hitachi, a multinational electronics company, to explore the opportunities of a new comprehensive online data sharing platform called the City Data Exchange. The Exchange will combine private and public data sources in one location, making it easier for data users to navigate the ever-growing online ocean of information. Gehl was asked to create a use-case for this new platform, investigating specifically how the field of creating inclusive and vibrant public realms could benefit from the initiative.

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Rethinking the the approach to streets

The short test resulted in three conceptual ideas:

#1: Re-thinking Citizen Engagement

How can data help city governments better reach out to the actual users of the urban realms?

Data-driven community engagement has the potential to completely redefine the relationship between government, citizen and sense of belonging. Engagement could take place on the ground in real-time, both directly and indirectly, creating more equal opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard.

#2: The City as Laboratory

How can data enable a more experimental city for both governments, designers, businesses and citizens?

Data collection and analysis has been part of the city-planning process for many decades, but the natural methodological limitations have created a static culture, where few datasets and agglomerations are used to make long-term decisions. With more technologically advanced collection methods, the city can become a laboratory, where decision-making is based on iteration, learning from and with the city’s daily users.

#3: Dynamic Public Realm

How can data help city governments, urban planners and designers build more a dynamic public realm?

The modern city has become a predominantly static landscape, where changes come at a high cost and with long timelines. An increasingly technological environment can be programmable, introducing a new layer of dynamism to the city that can meet real-time demands, for an altogether better and more sustainable usage of the public realm.

These three concepts just scratch the surface of how data can help us create a more direct relationship between how the city is structured and how the city is used. With the right data – and the right use of data – we can make sure all our urban spaces invite for a dynamic and inclusive public life.

Contributed by: Camilla Siggaard-Andersen