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European cities share 10 principles for using citizen data

The cities of Bordeaux, Barcelona, Debrecen, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Florence, Ghent, Helsinki, Manchester, Rijeka and Zaragoza collaborated on the guidelines.

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City network EUROCITIES has launched a new guide outlining key principles for using citizen data responsibly. It was developed with and includes real-world examples from several European cities.

 

Citizen data is defined as: “Personal and non-personal data, directly or indirectly generated in the digital public sphere, using digital technologies and collected through different infrastructures (Internet of Things, telecom networks, payment systems, cameras, social networks, etc).

 

This data is discussed in the context of being traced, collected, measured, stored, used, managed and processed by both public and private entities.

 

The cities of Bordeaux, Barcelona, Debrecen, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Florence, Ghent, Helsinki, Manchester, Rijeka and Zaragoza collaborated on the guidelines.

 

The principles include that citizen data must be recognised as a public and individual asset and should be used solely in the public interest.

 

Data guardians

 

The principles state that that anonymised data should be shared between relevant stakeholders with the common goal of maximising public value, subject to national and EU legislation.

 

However, safeguards (e.g. synthetic data) must be identified and put in place to avoid, wherever possible, the risk of individuals or profiles being identified through use of new data analysis technologies. Use of citizen data must generate tangible benefits for citizens and society, the report says.

 

The principles state that that anonymised data should be shared between relevant stakeholders with the common goal of maximising public value.

 

Citizens must be data guardians, the guidelines state, noting that: “Governments have the responsibility to, and must, ensure citizens can have access to and manage their data, as well as influence how it is collected and used.”

 

Storage, management, processing and use of data that involves privacy or safety risks should be done in accordance with the relevant EU and national legislation, the principles say.

 

Interoperability is also highlighted. “The importance of data interoperability should be acknowledged and guaranteed through standardisation, open interfaces, open data models and open protocols to facilitate data-sharing and re-use,” the report states.

 

In action

 

The report contains several case studies to support each of the principles.

 

Michael Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer, City of Barcelona and vice-chair of the EUROCITIES Knowledge Society Forum, said: “People should have the same sense of security online as they do offline. This includes their ability to use, manage and access data. Our open data challenge, launched with the motto ‘the future re-users are now in school’ saw us working with students (14-16 years old) to develop apps offering policymakers valuable insights while teaching students about the importance of data in designing city life.”

 

“People should have the same sense of security online as they do offline."

 

Mathias De Clerq, Mayor of Ghent, said: “As we develop new technologies and generate new datasets on public life, we want to ensure the digital transformation is accessible to and works for all people. In Ghent, our ‘data processing registry’ gives public authorities an updated and accurate overview of the data produced in the city while the open version allows residents to interact with and query the administration on the use of their personal data.”

 

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