Open Data Day 2019: Open Data for Sustainability

During Open Data Day 2019 (on March 2, 2019), Metabolism of Cities and Open Up will hold an event called "Open Data Day 2019: Open Data for Sustainability". This event will take place at Codebridge in Newlands, Cape Town, and it will focus on gathering data around resource flows, stocks, infrastructure, and more. Read more below.


There are many reasons why our society should prioritise the implementation of more sustainable practices. From climate change to overfishing, and from pollution to deforestation… there are numerous challenges that we face at the moment. However, something that is not directly obvious is that there is a strong link between sustainability science and data.

Data and sustainability science

In order for scientists, city planners, policy makers, NGOs and companies to address challenges challenges around sustainability on an urban level, it is fundamental to get a holistic, system-wide understanding of resources, consumption patterns, and other relevant pieces of information of the city. This allows identification of where to intervene, it permits monitoring of policy, and it provides benchmarks and indicators that can tell what works and what doesn’t.

However, obtaining relevant data on a city level is often very difficult, time-consuming, and it limits the understanding we have of urban sustainability.

Urban resource flows, stocks, and infrastructure

The goal of Open Data Day 2019 is to support the quest for data around urban sustainability. The non-profit, open source platform “Metabolism of Cities” has recently launched a data portal for information on urban resource flows, stocks, infrastructure, and other relevant data. A lot of the relevant data and information is already on the internet – but it is extremely scattered. Data and information can be found in government reports, academic publications, statistical publications, Wikipedia, shapefiles, corporate websites, and elsewhere. By bringing this all into a single platform, participants will be helping to create open data and make this information much more accessible to others. The goal of the platform is to not just provide numbers, but to also describe each relevant sector, using photos, text, videos, and other materials. 

Draft agenda

    • 09.00-09.30 Welcome
    • 09.30-10.00 Background of the project and instructions
    • 10.00-11.00 Participants complete training exercise and decide on topics
    • 11.00-12.30 Data quest
    • 12.30-13.30 Lunch
    • 13.30-16.00 Data quest
    • 16.00-16.30 Announcement of winners; closing

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Type of information gathered

    • Data on resource flows into or out of the city
Example: imports of petroleum into Cape Town

    • Data on consumption of resources
Example: quantity of dairy consumed in Cape Town

    • Data on resource stocks
Example: total number of vehicles in Cape Town

    • Data on infrastructure
Example: location and names of all wastewater treatment works

    • Sectoral information
Example: top-level description of the wine farming industry in Cape Town

    • Photos
Example: photo of fishing boat offloading in the Cape Town port

    • Videos
Example: video of bread production at the Snowflake factory

    • Journal articles
Example: relevant publication from a journal about Cape Town’s water crisis

    • Government publications
Example: City report on transport infrastructure

    • Legislation
Example: bylaws pertaining to food processing in the city

    • Maps
Example: shapefiles containing the location of all train stations in the city

Please note that there are more types of information that can be gathered, but the list above shows the diversity in relevant information, allowing a user to dive deep into a data extraction task, or to focus on other types of information like finding places on a map or locating relevant photos in the Wikimedia Commons.

Why participate?

Information gathered during this event will provide a meaningful contribution to the data platform. There is an academic community behind the platform, and researchers will benefit from having more information more readily at hand. Every bit of information helps, and not only will it save researchers or city officials time, but it can also help provide new insights or raise awareness and understanding.

Getting participants to work together to search for, process, and catalog information on resources and infrastructure in Cape Town

Register here

Event information
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Mar 02, 2019
  • Type of event
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