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Albert Jan Kruiter, member of the Sounding Board of The State of Eindhoven, public entrepreneur and founder of the Instituut voor Publieke Waarden on 'data deserts'.

Data to inspire and support plans

The presumption is that citizens would be more active in improving their neighbourhoods if they had greater access to data about their neighbourhoods because it makes them think differently about their environment. But also because it would help them to carry out plans they have already conceived. I also propose that sharing data on the social domain can lead to greater social inclusion. Especially because many groups that have fallen through the net are rendered invisible by data deserts and compartmentalised information. How many children are taken away from their parents because the parents have no roof over their heads? How many health-insurance defaulters are there who are in receipt of mental health care? How many lonely pensioners are there in a particular neighbourhood? How many people would be willing to do shopping for people who are unable to do it themselves? How many people regularly give to food banks and do volunteer work? How many people could teach languages? These are all questions whose answers could lead to plans that would promote social inclusion.

Of course much more is required than simply making data available. Plans need to be financially viable and sustainable. But a smart city has the chance to contribute to making data available. There is currently a blind spot in this respect. There are several ways of tackling this:

  • We organise a ‘know your neighbourhood’ session in which residents can ask questions about their neighbourhood, which we attempt to answer with accurate data. And if the answers are unavailable, we categorise it as a data desert.
  • Together with residents, we develop plans for the neighbourhood that they want to and can implement. We attempt to support these plans with accurate data.
  • We explore with residents whether they can fill in data deserts.
  • We combine all of the above.

The smart city offers many opportunities for innovation and creativity. But it can also be a driving force behind transformation in the social domain by making data about neighbourhoods available to residents and by making social exclusion visible so that we can make plans for social inclusion. During my contribution to The State of Eindhoven I will consider the triangle: residents – plans – data.

The State of Eindhoven
Linda Vlassenrood

This project is part of the programme track Partner projects and the folder Research.

The multiyear cultural programme The State of Eindhoven)looks at the changing relationship between government and citizens and, specifically, Eindhoven’s twofold ambition of being a “smart city” in a participatory society.