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Urban Data, Research Capacity and Smart City

Sustainable Development Goal 11 focuses on delivering sustainable cities and communities. As the region experiences high rates of urbanization little is known at community level how that has translated into improved quality of life for the urbanized communities. The increasing challenges of jobless growth, relatively low quality of livable space and services with unplanned urban sprawl have combined to challenge the cause for livability, productivity and sustainability in the East African cities. The low quality of data in East African cities is now a development concern.
The Increasing younger population in Eastern African cities, in an increasingly digitalized generation is presenting both a benefit and a challenge.  Digitalized environment is churning out a lot scattered data characteristics that would be the seed bed for research and innovative solutions for many of the challenges associated with rapid urbanization. Cities like Nairobi have opened up to number start-ups that are transforming the next generation of green jobs creation. In Lusaka Zambia real impacts used Mobile phone data a study done by Real Impacts on prevalence of malaria has resulted in reduction in Malaria cases. The region has the highest growth rate of the population with Mobile phones that has not only improved communication and connectivity, generated data, but intensified the demand for Accountability, accessibility and affordability of services.

The increasing demand for better governance in cities where the drivers for rapid urbanization are slowly shifting from industrial conglomerates, has constrained the capacity of cities to efficiently and effectively respond to the demands for better service delivery. Cities have a challenging role to address various issues such as Urban Planning, climate change, environmental matters, non-renewable resources, social and economic development, increasing populations, city infrastructures, Governance & Funding.

The city resources are under constant threats and always falling short of the citizens’ demands. This has resulted into need for smart cities, where resources can be effectively shared and good governance achieved for smooth citizen empowerments.

ICT is therefore seen as a main driver behind the proposal for enhanced efficiencies in urban governance. ICT provides a digitalized platform that help to improve revenue collection, automated parking systems, or traffic management or the surveillance and security with cameras, or hospitals managing thousands of patients. Despite the immense benefits from ICT, the budgetary allocations across the region are still minimal limiting the large scale application of technologies to delivery efficiency.
As the region prepares for next phase of urbanization the role of ICT as a principle driver for a smart city is becoming more paramount. The concept of smart city is influenced by the idea of developing the urban hubs that run on technology to provide better urban services and systems and how that has influenced, livability, productivity and sustainability.

The forum will seek to address the following concerns:

How can the East African cities draw on existing and new sources of data to promote open access to and fully integrate statistics into urban decision making?
What can East African cities do to build effective research and statistical systems that can direct the cause of urbanization in the region?
Can Eastern African cities create strong, reliable, timely and consistent measurement framework to guide city comparability and realization of sustainable cities and Communities?
What role will "African" data play in the Sustainable Development Goals — SDGs?
What is the policy, regulatory and capacity challenges that need to be addressed to support the collection and dissemination of urban statistics?
How can East African cities develop research capacity to address the increasing demand for evidence based planning?
What is the position of technology in delivering an efficient urban system? How Can East African cities develop smart and connected communities?
What policy and regulatory challenges need to be addressed if the region is build smart cities?
What are the major physical planning concerns is the focus on satellite technology city the answer or modernizing and developing the existing cities under a mixed use approach?

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