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Using Data for Safer Cities
With more than half the world’s population expected to live in cities in the near future, the role of local government in ensuring safety in cities is paramount.

The Safer Cities Unit in partnership with UN Habitat and Huawei held a workshop with various departments represented to discuss the use of reliable data for a safer Durban. Titled “Data for Safer Cities’, the workshop discussed the emergence of big data in the past decade and the unprecedented opportunity it has presented to deliver cost effective measurement and monitoring of municipal crime prevention and safety policies.

It also presents an opportunity to promote better relations on data management between the public sector and private sector particularly using social media and mobile phone apps to facilitate public participation and real time data capture.

Bongumusa Zondo, Acting Head for Safer Cities Unit, said, “According to the New Urban Agenda, safety is considered an essential theme to making cities sustainable. 

During the next 20 years, the Safer Cities Programme will focus ​on more transformative and creative action plans driven by NUA Para 100 & 103, including Sustainable Development Goal 11 on making cities and human settlements sustainable, safer, inclusive and resilient.”

He added, “The workshop intended to address and document local capacities and best practices by engaging relevant stakeholders and sought to compile existing local instruments, processes and methods for data collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting on the state of safety. This includes indicators, strategies and initiatives in the municipality as well as the policy framework, where national strategy and Global Agenda guidelines intervene.”

Juma Assiago, UN Habitat lead co-ordinator for the Safer Cities Programme, delivered the White Paper on Big Data for Safer Cities 2.0 at the workshop. He said, “The lack of data and incapacity of local governments to access/own data implies less impact and efficiency on policy/program implementation. This also reduces the capacity to improve those strategies and roll-out successful solutions at a broader scale.” 

Siphelele Ngobese of the South African Cities Network, speaking at the Big Data for Safer Cities Workshop said that collecting data is essential so that cities can create informed strategies. Data collection is a combined effort of
government and citizens.

Groups discussions focussed on crime prevention strategies, social crime prevention and urban safety through urban development. Dr Barbara Holtmann, an expert in social transformation facilitated the group discussions on creating a vision for a safer eThekwini at the Big Data Safer Cities Workshop. Delegates at the workshop assessed key indicators to create a safer eThekwini.

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