Publication ‘A strategy for urban data’

Creating the right environment for data collaboration

In collaboration with AMS Institute, Waag has made a publication on urban data, written by Socrates Schouten of the Chamber of Commons, entitled: A strategy for urban data.

Download a copy (pdf)

This report was written in the context of the development AMS Institute’s knowledge portal (, currently early stage) and the DSI4EU project (


Many cities in Europe face major societal challenges in the areas of energy transition, climate adaptation, food security, mobility and social welfare. Solutions to these challenges are often so complex that collaboration is required between many parties from different domains (physical, spatial and social) and across various scales. In response, the city is increasingly conceived as a living lab: an environment where citizens and stakeholders work together on smart and creative solutions to urgent problems. And increasingly data play pivotal role in this as a means to inform, facilitate and enable interactions taking place in the city. It is in this regard that the idea of ‘data commons’ is being brought to the fore, suggesting inclusive production of, and access to, data by a community that includes practitioners, researchers and citizens.

What exactly are data commons? What kind of applications do they appear in? And who are the parties involved in the research and development of successful urban solutions?

In this report, Waag and AMS Institute investigate how new design methods and data technologies can be optimally used for research and experimentation. Through literature review, interviews with stakeholders and public sessions about ‘Designing the City‘ we explored what possibilities there are for the sharing and reuse of data from projects executed in the urban context. Sharing data, if done wisely, has tremendous potential for research, innovation, new business, a better organised society and more civic involvement. Reuse of data promises large improvements in the time and pace of (scientific and civic) discovery. We formulate lessons learned and recommendations to guide these processes and anticipate the associated challenges. These lessons are especially geared toward ‘intermediary’ organisations and ‘system actors’ that want to support civil society with the question of shared data management. But first we need to make sure we are asking the right questions—to the right people.