Open Papers: 'To understand poverty and homelessness, we need to quantify it'

With the 2016 Open Data Awards just around the corner, we speak with the team at 300.000 Km/s about their homelessness mapping project Open Papers, one of the finalists in the Innovation category.

The Open Data Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in open data across the world. Hundreds of inspiring people and organisations have been nominated. The awards will be held on 1 November 2016 at the BFI Southbank. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #OpenDataAwards for updates on the night.


300.000 Km/s

@300000kms null

What do you do, in a nutshell?

We are a urban design firm specialising in urban data analysis and visualisation. We use publicly available data from a number of sources to generate data products and data analytics services for public administration, private companies and organisations to help them make better data-driven decisions. Some examples are Big Time Bcn and the Historic Charter of Barcelona, and Bcn Dynamics and Geographies of Innovation.

We have been nominated for the Open Data Innovation Award for a project called Open Papers, which maps homelessness via collective and crowdsourced data collection. It addresses the growing 'data divide in cities and problems such as poverty and social exclusion, which we believe need to be quantified and visualised in order to be addressed.

What first got you excited about open data?

Open data is crucial for us as urban designers. Even today, urban planning relies on traditional cartographic information (topography, plot, division and usage) and neighbourhood-level statistics. These long-established practices are inadequate in comprehending both the rapid morphological changes happening in cities and citizens' behaviour when using their urban environments. We believe the information we're working to make more accessible will radically change the way in which we design cities and the tools required to do it.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

We struggle with a lack of data, of course, but our biggest challenge is to create meaningful conclusions that can empower citizens, communities and public bodies to act.

What kind of open data would you like to see more of?

While useful data on certain aspect and functions of our cities (demographics, employment, transport, health) is currently released by public bodies, this isn't always granular or accurate enough.

We'd also like to see more citizens and communities collaborating to gather and produce open data, so it can better reflect how they use their urban spaces.

What are you most looking forward to about the ODI Summit and Awards?

We're looking forward to learning a lot from other open data case studies the vibrant international open data community.

The awards will be held on 1 November 2016 at the BFI Southbank. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #OpenDataAwards for updates on the night.