Project Description

Civic data is the creation and synthesis of diverse data sources in and with communities to enhance decision-making, knowledge production, and action.

Informal settlements represent a data shadow that limits residents from fully participating in urban transformation. We formed Chapa to create local data that is often missing from urban planning and design. Our work:

1 – provides tools and resources to help communities mobilize around shared concerns and actionable change;

2 – seeks to democratize how cities are planned, governed, and managed;

3 – cultivates a community of civic data and knowledge production to expands citizen participation in urban development.

The Chapa Civic Data Lab has collected quantitative and qualitative data from the household to urban scale about how redevelopment processes impact informal settlements.

São Paulo has used a number of different upgrading approaches to redevelop its informal settlements over the years. We used geospatial analysis to determine that Heliópolis and São Francisco are the only two where all approaches have been implemented. Serendipitously, Kristine Stiphany undertook ethnographic research in these two communities (and a third) for her doctoral studies.

We collected the data through a three phase process. First, we used focus groups to ask residents about their experience of slum upgrading approaches in the two case studies of Heliópolis and São Francisco. Second, we collaborated with local community organizations to develop a combined household and post-occupancy evaluation survey. Third, we implemented this unique survey instrument with a two-step random selection process, first developed by the LAHN. We then visualized the data with ComuniDADOS and CARTO, which informed follow-up studies. 

Big urban data about informality is frequently derived from the census, and is often missing  rich, local detail. Most data about informality are visualized using GIS software, which is difficult for many citizens to access and interpret. As an alternative, civic data provides a tool for residents to participate in urban development, and for planners to effectively engage incremental urban processes.

We counted the dwellings in each case community, classified each relative to one of four upgrading approaches and associated housing types, and derived a weighted sample.

Although we collected data at the household (parcel and building) scale, ComuniDADOS visualizes these data relative to block and, at resident request, nucleo (district) scale.

Recently, we moved to Carto and aggregate relative to census tracts, for ease of comparison to 2020 census.

We used an IRB release, and do not associate data to a parcel address. 

The data are used to (1) mobilize and raise awareness about areas of concern among residents, activists, and community organization constituents; (2) to propose physical interventions (usually through the LAUD-LAB); (3) to democratize how cities are managed and governed. 

Nathan Brigmon and Kristine Stiphany built ComuniDADOS to visualize the study data.

We publish through platforms that are intended to reach a range of audiences: academic papers, reports, civic data briefs, and interactive maps.

We look forward to talking. Please contact us here, in English or Portuguese.