In the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the city government of Coimbatore is currently engaged in its most direct and transparent effort to monitor and report progress on the urban development to its 1.6 million citizens. With support from domestic and international stakeholders, the city has proudly rolled out the Coimbatore Open Data Portal and Dashboard.
Community Systems Foundation’s technical partner, Avalon Information Systems, designed and developed the city-level integrated platform. The Open Data Platform was supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the umbrella of Indo-German Development Cooperation and implemented in partnership with the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC).
The aim of the platform is to contextualize the global framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at the city level and facilitate data-driven governance in core thematic areas that were identified by the city government. These areas include education, economy, environment, governance, health, service, planning, digital governance and energy management.
While similar exercises have been completed at the state-level in India, Coimbatore represents the first city in India to have created a detailed indicator registry and Open Data Portal that monitors and tracks granular contributions to national and global development efforts.
The disproportionate levels of urban migration, combined with rapid urbanisation and unbridled development, have gradually changed the roles and responsibilities of cities in India. The interlinkages and interdependencies of various urban activities extends the ambit of influence of cities well beyond the scope of targets as articulated in SDG 11. Hence, the performance of cities acts as a crucial indicator in assessing the overall progress of SDGs in India.
In this context it is prudent to develop monitoring mechanisms that aims to capture a city's development, and to create a visual presentation of the data to provide an overview of the development trajectory and its contribution to achieving the SDGs. Under the ambit of monitoring SDGs and promoting data-driven governance, a digital toolkit was developed and implemented in the city of Coimbatore.
Few years ago, Community Systems Foundation was awarded a micro-grant to work with the Government of Patiala, India in the northern state of Punjab. This initiative aimed to SDG sensitisation at the city level, determine what their priorities are and to build a mock dashboard that visualized road accidents, which was the most pressing issue for the city. With this rich experience in hand, CSF & Avalon recognized the impact that monitoring platforms could have at the city level to support strengthened accountability, collaboration and decision-making.
Importantly, the work in Coimbatore can be replicated to meet the needs and demands of other cities within India and beyond. The technology that drives the Open Data Platform is open-source and easily configurable. Underlying the platform are applications that fall under the Data for All (DFA) toolkit comprising the DFA Data Manager and DFA Dashboard Builder.
DFA Open Data Toolkit
The DFA Data Manager enables the city of Coimbatore to manage the development of their indicators, determine how their information will be measured as well as provide space to report their data, which is then populated on evidence-based dashboards. The DFA Dashboard is linked directly to the configurations completed within the Data Manager and allows the city government to determine which indicators will be on their dashboards, choose the charts and visualizations that will showcase their results and enables for transparent promotion of actions taken in priority areas.
The foundation of this work is rooted in the detailed city indicator framework that was developed through an iterative process with the city government and key stakeholders. The indicators considered for the dashboard evolved primarily from the National Indicator Framework and the relevant city indices by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India including Ease of Living, Municipal Performance Index, Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework and Data Maturity Assessment Framework. The dashboard consists of data for 105 indicators, covering 404 data points across 9 core thematic areas and 14 SDGs, spanning from 2016 to 2021.
The contours of the tool were developed in partnership and through multiple consultations with stakeholders from CCMC and GIZ. These interactions were crucial to establish the linkages between the available datasets and SDG monitoring at the local level. The Open Data Platform in Coimbatore represents an important step in aligning local commitments to international objectives. The platform is positioned to create a sustainable pathway for data-driven decision-making at the city level.
Community Systems Foundation applauds the efforts from the city, state and national government and looks forward to continued collaboration.