Social, democratic and environmental impact of open data in cities?


Open Knowledge is currently doing some research into city level open data initiatives.

If you know of examples that highlight the potential social, democratic and environmental impacts of open data in cities - please do post them below. We’d also be interested in hearing about potential risks and unexpected consequences of open data initiatives at city level.

Finally, we’ll be compiling a list of further resources and readings on this topic - so we would love to hear of suggestions for reports, papers, case studies, blog posts or other material.

I’ll keep this thread updated as we progress!


I believe Daniel O’Neil’s talk at PDF this year had an interesting story in this regard:

He may also be a good person to talk to generally.


I am working on such an initiative.

Please see

This contains profiles of California local governments and elected officials.

Fully developed examples include:

GiHub organization at:

Intention is to create a flexible framework that can be used in different US states and territories. We are working on adding Puerto Rico and expect to publish that in November.


It is very good effort to collecting good examples about impacts of open data in cities. 163 cities in Japan are providing open data.

I have heard some good stories from these cities, so I will ask them to add examples on it.


It might not directly related to this topic, but as I mentioned in another topic, I gathered some data portals managed by city-level governments into a Google Spreadsheet.


Here’s more US local government open data portals to add to your spreadsheet:


Hi Everyone,
This is my first post here on the okfn forums. Until now I have been a remote lurker.

My colleagues and I just finished an empirical study about the habits of open government data in 16 different cities in the US. We found that there where different types of open government commitment to open government. The paper can be accessed here

It might be relevant for this discussion.


Dear all,

We have published a conference paper on local open data in the UK. The link of the study is as follows:

Abstract: Transparency has been one of the aims of the open data movement since its inception. However, political transparency is a complicated subject and the rhetoric of open data often fails to recognise this. This paper reviews some of the different concepts of transparency identified by political scientists and applies them to the UK government transparency code for local authorities. It concludes that the code is based on a limited concept of transparency and more expansive view would be more likely to achieve the its aims.

best wishes,



An important enabler and user of open data is the GeoWeb 2.0 - online interactive maps - that make location very transparent. I have just completed a PhD thesis on the implications of the GeoWeb 2.0 for environmental sustainability.
The thesis abstract is at:

You might also be interested in my paper published last year at


OECD Better Life Index could be one of the model to use open data, even though this is for OECD countries. This is based on statistical data which is public from OECD.Stat.

And I’m participating in DaPaaS and CITI-SENSE projects which are funded by EU FP7, and developing a use-case called PLUQI which is similar to OECD Better Life Index but comparing among cities. PLUQI is getting data from DaPaaS platform which is supporting ETL features for open data and hosting the datasets as Linked Data, and also from CITI-SENSE which is providing environmental sensor data for its pilot cities.

PLUQI is under development now, and this is just a demo service for the projects, but this could be one of the interesting model to use open data for cities. You could refer below If you are interested in.


I suggest you have a look at which gathers pollution data (unsure about the data sources and if they are all open data ) to create air reports for 100+ cities like


Hi everyone – long time OKFN fan but first time posting here. I’m the founder of Plume Labs (and the former co-founder of the French government’s open data task force Etalab/

We’re collecting live air pollution data from 200+ cities around the world, and building machine-learning models to predict hourly pollution forecasts.

We’re working to open our platform as an open API. It would be great to contribute to any work you’re envisioning on the environmental impact of open data in cities. Please feel free to reach out to me here.


Thanks @Romain_Lacombe. Also on the democratic aspect, have a look at, an amazing Regards Citoyens project on local finances for each French city.


On the issue of air quality, are there any attested cases where data on this topic has contributed to practical changes in urban contexts? For example, are there cases where NGOs have successfully used air quality data to argue for the introduction of low emission zones in cities?


You can find quite remarkable examples in the results of an european project call apps4europe. But OK international was a member and wordpackage leader,
Maybe I haven’t understood properly the question but you have full information on that.


Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Let me try to rephrase it. It seems that policy makers at the national and municipal level are aware of the negative effects of evidence that poor air quality leads to poor health outcomes, for instance, and take certain steps to ameliorate the situation, for example by banning cars from city centres. However, the authorities are collecting the air quality themselves, perhaps with support from other organisations, and they may or may not make the data easily available to the public via open data publication.

At the same time, there are great initiatives like this:

Now, do open data initiatives like this actually have a significant impact on policy decisions? Does it make a difference if citizens and NGOs get easier access to air pollution data? If so, what’s the evidence that shows this to be the case?