Data-Driven Cities: Conference for the Urban Common Good

Kenya

At the invitation of the German and Kenyan governments, the Data-Driven Cities: Conference for the Urban Common Good took place in Kenya on 12 and 13 February 2024. The focus was on the question of how data can be used successfully to promote the urban common good.

State Secretary Schnorr (BMDV) and Principal Secretary Kisiang’ani (MICDE). © Margaret Mwihaki / Light in Captivity

More than 100 experts from Germany, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and other African countries met on site in Nairobi, the vibrant capital of Kenya, and around 85 participants from all over the world joined in online. They represented governments, city administrations, companies, scientific institutes and civil society organisations.

As the first international event of the Kenyan-German Digital Dialogue, the conference was officially opened by Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani, Principal Secretary for Broadcasting and Telecommunications at the Ministry of Information, Communications and The Digital Economy (MICDE), State Secretary Stefan Schnorr of the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) and State Secretary Dr Rolf Bösinger of the German Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB). All three hosts emphasised the great importance of transnational cooperation for the development of digital solutions for the urban common good. Their message was clear: together we can use digital tools to make our cities more liveable.

A day centred around data for the urban common good

Karen Laßmann from the Berlin Senate Department took part and summarised: "The challenges of the necessary digital transformations are the same, whether in Europe or Africa. Conferences like this strengthen the (international) community and help us to learn from each other."

Conference speakers presented their projects on urban development. © Margaret Mwihaki / Light in Captivity

In terms of content, the conference focussed on different levels of data collection and data use in cities. Presentations on successful data strategies, platforms and projects gave participants an insight into proven methods and useful tips for their own work in urban development. In the morning of the first day, representatives of BMWSB and the City of Cape Town explained their approaches to utilising data for the common good and discussed these with the audience. Particularly impressive were the data platforms presented from Germany, Ghana and South Africa, including BMDV's Mobilithek, Germany's data platform that “gets you moving”.  

In the afternoon, a total of eleven projects were presented, demonstrating the variety of possible applications of data in urban development – from improving urban mobility to efficient resource management and spatial planning. These presentations not only provided insights into successful strategies, but also into the associated challenges and learning processes.

Jointly developed results

Participants discussed the projects in working groups. © Margaret Mwihaki / Light in Captivity

Finally, the participants had the opportunity to discuss the projects presented in working groups and to draw conclusions for their own work from the findings. The results of the working groups were recorded and presented in the plenary session. They will be published soon in the form of a report.

On the second day of the conference, the participants visited KONZA Technopolis, Kenya's large-scale smart city, technology and innovation project, situated around 60 kilometres south of Nairobi. As a key project on Kenya's national development agenda, it provided the ideal opportunity to gain insights into the future direction of the country's technology and innovation landscape and explore a data-driven urban space.

The conference highlighted that a new era of urban development has begun, where data not only helps to solve existing problems, but also to identify and capitalise on future opportunities. The insights and inspiration from the conference will form the basis for continued dialogue and collaboration between all stakeholders.

 

© Light in Captivity

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