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Globe Town: Open data for sustainability website wins global award

- July 17, 2012 in Announcements, Environment, Energy and Sustainability

A new website that opens up the complex world of climate change and how it relates to the individual has won a major global award for our team from the UK. was placed third in the first international ‘Apps for Climate’ competition (#Apps4Climate) held by the World Bank presented at a ceremony in Washington DC. Competition judges included Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development.  The overall winner was Ecofacts from Argentina, and second place went to Norway’s My Climate Plan.  In the last such competition from the World Bank – Apps for Development – a team from the OKFN also won third place with Yourtopia.

Globe Town image 1Globe-Town builds heavily on the increasing amount of freely available open data online, with much of it originating from the World Bank’s open data portal which provides a rich variety of well-organized information around all aspects of sustainable development. By opening up the facts of climate change in different countries, Globe-Town shows how no one is isolated from the consequences in an interdependent world. The site also reveals how responding to climate change presents a world of opportunities to inspire individuals and entrepreneurs.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that climate change is killing 150,000 people a year. In order to tackle this challenge, we all need to know how it affects us personally and what we can do about it. Globe-Town does this by connecting the global with the local, so we can explore the risks, responsibilities and opportunities of climate change in an increasingly interconnected world.

The aim of Globe-Town is to open up our world of connections to exploration, whilst bringing home what the things we discover might mean to us personally. We hope to bring more transparency to the rich network of our connections, or, perhaps introduce people to their far-away next-door neighbours.  Globe-Town originated with my research into the web and climate change.  I’m fascinated by the potential of web technologies and openness to tackle global challenges and advance sustainable development for all;  Globe-Town is just one example of how they can contribute.  I’m really looking forward to exploring this new area at the  Sustainability Stream of the Open Knowledge Festival in Finland this September, where I’m a program planner.  The site was developed from my original concept with a team of four PhD students from the University’s Web Science Doctoral Training Centre: architect Richard Gomer, Huw Fryer, Will Fyson, Dominic Hobson & myself.  The fancy graphics were designed by Andrea Prieto.

Globe-Town is an user friendly web app where people can learn about each country’s environment, society and economy, so they can understand the challenges and opportunities that it faces in a changing world. Moreover, they can explore the connections between countries through relationships such as trade, migration or air travel. Stories can then emerge of how climate risks can be transmitted between distant countries, for instance the impact of the 2011 Thai floods on the Japanese economy. Similarly, the user can learn about shared responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions through the things we import, or opportunities to act to mitigate and to adapt, such as investing in renewable energy projects abroad. This is the first version of the app, and the team are very keen to receive feedback and ideas for version two.

We’re exploring a wide range of possibilities for the future of Globe-Town, such as enabling people to crowd-fund projects, participate in e-activism, or to contribute content so they can take action about what they discover. With ideas like these – along with the existing discussion feature – Globe-Town can go beyond exploring our existing links to forging new ones around the world. After all, we all live in the same Globe-Town.

City DataParty

- February 3, 2012 in Cities, Data Party, Events

If you have fun working with data or would like to learn how to do some data-crunching, please come to our virtual DataParty on City Data on Wednesday, February 8 @ 5pm GMT / 6pm CET / 12pm EST. To join the DataParty, please enter your skype ID in the DataParty Etherpad. If you are in London, you can also come to the #C4CC at 16 Acton Street, WC1X 9NG. We will gather disaggregated data on city and regional level for cities around the world and add them to the Datahub.

Are you interested in what drives cities? Regional and city data can much more interesting than national averages, as it reflects the spatial agglomerations of economic and social activities. Analysing regional level data could deliver insights about the unequal economic development – whether patterns of development are due to geographical devisions or institutional factors.

What do you value personally in a city? Maybe the employment opportunities, the low crime rates, the environmental quality and good weather or the concentration of cultural and academic activities… Do you want to live in a densely- or sparsely-populated city, one with many schools and few car accidents? Probably you consider some of those factors really important and others not decisive at all. And you would be right to put a different weight on the various factors which constitute a city. Probably you would also like to know what your perfect city would be like. The next Open Economics project will build an application to determine the Best City in the World to submit to the BuzzData & EIU – Data Mash-Up & Visualization Contest: “Where is the best city in the world to live?”.

Spatial economists and econometricians, as well as interested data journalists and citizens are also welcome to join – building a dataset, based on comparable NUTS3 statistics of Eurostat for European countries, we can analyse the relationships between the labour market, education, health and spending. You are welcome to share and practice data analysis techniques and initiate follow-up activities.