Planning An Open Cities Mapping Project

This guide discusses the rationale and design of the Open Cities Project, the major components of its implementation to date, and some of the most salient lessons learned from the project so far. The Open Cities Project launched its efforts in three cities: Batticaloa, Sri Lanka; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Kathmandu, Nepal. These cities were chosen for:

  • Their high levels of disaster risk;
  • The presence of World Bank-lending activities related to urban planning and disaster management that would benefit from access to better data;
  • The willingness of government counterparts to participate in and help guide the interventions.

In each of these projects, Open Cities has supported the creation of new data while also attending to the cities’ broader ecosystems of open data production and use.

Leveraging robust, accurate data to improve urban planning and disaster risk management decisions requires not only high-quality information but also the requisite tools, skills, and willingness to commit to a data-driven decision-making process. With this in mind, Open Cities also has developed partnerships across government ministries, donor agencies, universities, private sector technology groups, and civil society organizations to ensure broad acceptance of the data produced, facilitate data use, and align investments across projects and sectors.

The guide is intended for practitioners who wish to bring community mapping initiatives to their cities or regions. Community mapping efforts often result in increased awareness of disaster risk within governments and a consensus within ministries that this risk must be reduced.