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“You really have to invest in team-building with the core members of the and the municipality — understand each other’s world.” To make sure that data work leads to policy implementation, it’s also important to involve the officials that have authority over the policy area that research addresses, Elbrink notes.
In the case of Eindhoven’s electric-car-charging stations, for instance, the policy officer responsible for this portfolio was part of the project from the beginning, he says.
The urban data centre “is really giving us aid in asking the right questions and pointing out interesting patterns, and in that way supporting policymaking,” he said.
Through the urban data centre’s collaboration, the city is looking at ways to improve its data handling, leveraging the capacity and knowledge of the national statistics office, he says.
At the summit in Cape Town, the Netherlands stood out as a leader in this regard. That process gave the city an indication of the spread of electric vehicles and demand for charging stations.That would have been impossible to do without access to national vehicle data, says Robert Elbrink, head of the city’s strategy department.The CBS Urban Data Center in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, was the country's first such initiative.
Since it opened in September, two others have started operating -- with several more in the works. The idea is to bring together staff from local government and the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics () to work collaboratively using national, local and “big” data to help inform better urban decision-making and guide city investments. We are trying to learn what the policy needs are, and we try to see how we can support that,” says Statistics Netherlands’ Robert Hermans, programme director for the Urban Data Centres.
It’s important for us, but it’s not our core business.” At the same time, the city has local, neighbourhood-level data, as well as air quality and traffic data.