Richard Gevers is the Founder of Open Cities Lab, a civic technology lab with a focus on the development of open data for application to urban challenges operating within cities in Africa. We explore many projects they are involved in, overcoming the general ‘fear of data’, how to improve public-private sector collaboration on Open Data, and how cities may change over the next 5 years.
About Open Cities Lab (OCL) and major projects, they are involved in
Overcoming the general ‘fear of data’ in public departments
Improving public-private sector collaboration on Open Data
How cities may change over the next 5 years
About Richard Gevers
Richard is the founder of Open Cities Lab, a civic technology lab with a focus on the development of open data for application to urban challenges operating within cities in Africa. He is also the CEO and co-founder of Tenji, a data science startup with a focus on building data products and tools that aid socio-economic development and planning.
Open Cities Lab is a non-profit civic technology lab that uses open data and civic technology in initiatives that work to build inclusive and responsive cities in order to put citizens at the centre and enable participative democracy. It implements and advocates for active citizens, open data, future inclusive cities, open government, and civic technology. Open Cities Lab believes in co-design that is centred around people and that lets those in the centre of the issue set the frame, context, and measurement and verification of the results.
Prior to founding Open Cities Lab, Richard worked as an economist, based in Durban, South Africa, for eight years where he interacted with both private clients and all tiers of the South African government on a range of projects in various sectors. He is an entrepreneur with a dedication to the advancement of African communities through dynamic solutions and tools, hoping to empower socio-economic development and to affect social change. He has a deep interest in openness and transparency in society. When he finds spare time he grows his beard, brews beer, appreciates good coffee, and likes to tell people he listens to vinyl.
About Open Cities Lab
We work to build inclusion and participatory democracy in cities and urban spaces through empowering citizens, building trust and accountability in civic space, and capacitating government.
We empower citizens to know their rights and understand the data, knowledge, mechanisms, and processes they can use to make their lives, and those of their communities, better. ‘Better’ means more inclusive and participative, both in ‘hard’ topics such as service delivery and built environment, as well as social cohesion, dignity, placemaking, and community building.
BUILDING GOVERNMENT CAPACITY
We work proactively with the government to build capacity for informed decision-making and evidence-based policy and planning, with a focus on areas where this can uplift vulnerable and excluded communities. We enable co-design of existing and new processes and mechanisms for including citizens in decision-making, including sharing and opening data and information, and ‘crowding-in’ of intelligence and insight.
TRUST & ACCOUNTABILITY IN CIVIC SPACE
We work with key actors including communities, the media, academia, and government to build accountability and trust in civic space. This includes fair and independent media, monitoring and transparent oversight of power, such as state-owned enterprises, and increasingly, the use of AI and machine learning in areas that affect privacy and democracy.
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