Informal 2.0: Seeing and Improving Urban Informal Practices through Digital Technologies The Digital Matatus case in Nairobi

Citation:
Klopp J, Orwa D, Wagacha PW, Williams S, White A. "Informal 2.0: Seeing and Improving Urban Informal Practices through Digital Technologies The Digital Matatus case in Nairobi." Field Actions Science Reports. The journal of field actions. 2017;(16):39-43.

Abstract:

Conceived out of collaboration between Kenyan and American universities and the technology sector in Nairobi, Digital Matatus shows how to leverage the ubiquitous nature of cellphone technology to collect missing data for essential infrastructure - including those with high levels of informality. The project captured transit data in standardized form for Nairobi’s semi-formal bus system, developed the first public transit map for such a system and made the map and data free to the public, spurring innovation and improved services for citizens.
While most cities develop sophisticated IT projects to make their organization smarter, the Digital Matatus case suggests the value of a much more modest and bottom-up approach: it encourages reliance on common technologies like cellphones to understand and improve existing urban services – that often involve informality – in emerging countries. By developing the first-ever high quality data set and map of the Matatu network (very common semi-informal mini-buses in Kenya), the projects promotes a new, low-cost and more practical vision of smart and transit-oriented cities.

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