Data for the cities (

Visitors to the re: publica in front of the »allegory of our everyday life« by D. Einfalt and N. von Stietencron

Visitors to the re: publica in front of the »allegory of our everyday life« by D. Einfalt and N. von Stietencron

Photo: Ruby Images / F. Boillot

It's all about fear of data bugs and spying software. The fear is justified. Spies are being spied on and corporations like Google, Facebook & Co. are using their data monopolies primarily to develop projects that increase their profits – and then pass them by at the tax offices of the countries in which they operate. A digital exploitation process par excellence. Of course this was criticized at the network conference re: publica, which opened on Monday in Berlin. “We would have to abolish the Internet, it is so broken,” said dry re: publica co-founder Markus Beckedahl.

But there is no fear of data in general at the network conference. Rather, it is about a differentiated debate about how to deal with them, their access to them and the ownership of them. Under the heading »Cities and Mobility«, a sub-sector of re: publica is dedicated to the benefits that traffic data could bring to cities, their administrations, their inhabitants and visitors.

The pioneers are Scandinavian cities. The Canadian-Danish urbanist Mikael Colville-Andersen looks back on his hometown of Copenhagen. Since 2012, the city administration has been analyzing movement data of road users. Based on this data, the cycle path system could be aligned with the movement routines of cyclists. This has led to a greater use of the bike in everyday ways. »42 percent of all road users from the immediate vicinity of Copenhagen already use their bicycles. In the city center, there are 63 percent. And 75 percent of politicians use it, “says Colville-Andersen. Regular surveys of the city council also revealed that the main reason for using the bike was not environmental insight or economic calculations, but the ability to move quickly from one place to another.

However, this requires the appropriate and, above all, networked infrastructure. “Berlin is a horror for a cyclist accustomed to Copenhagen. Bike paths that end in nothingness. Cars coming from all directions, “complains the urbanist from the north about the rather inadequate physical infrastructure in the local urban space.

This physical infrastructure must be joined by the right digital infrastructure. Cities, for example, require mobility data for their planning. Copenhagen Mobility Index is such an example.

Residents and visitors can better avoid the car if they can use the networked data of public transport (ÖPNV), sharing services of cars, scooters and bicycles and also of carpools in their path planning. Helsinki is already quite far here with the Digitransit portal.

Stefan Kaufmann, a former open-data activist currently working for the city administration of Ulm, presented in his lecture various tools for linking data from various mobility providers who can already use cities. Karlsruhe, for example, already has a mobility portal that points out cycle paths, bus routes and shipping lines, points to construction sites and also on roads cleared of snow. Places where rental bikes are available are also shown. The co-driving center in turn wants to connect carpooling with public transport. “That's how we get the last kilometer, especially in rural areas with badly developed public transport,” Kaufmann said.

The Rad Research initiative is currently working on a technology that allows one's own bike to be loaned out, making it the building block of an alternative lending system. “This is where the locks of the bike-sharing services are screwed on in order to be able to develop a lock, which then makes it possible to lend your own bike,” says Kaufmann.

In general, he argues for the provision of data, not only from the municipal transport companies, but also from the commercial sharing services. “They're still fighting, sitting on their data. Cities could give them the condition that they can only offer their services if they share the data, “says Kaufmann. Cities therefore have creative power. Kaufmann vehemently opposes the idea that new commercial apps could solve the problems of the cities. “They're not systemic, they tend to create new problems, and they're targeting wealthy clients, not the entire urban population,” he said.

. (TagsToTranslate) digitizing (t) cycling (t) Transport Policy


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