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Creating people-friendly cities in a data rich world: towards smarter and more liveable places


There is a growing movement to make cities “smarter.” Typically the goal is to enhance a city’s efficiency and sustainability and thus lower carbon footprints. While these efforts are well-intended and of great importance, we must also make sure that our future cities are places that people also desire to live in across their lifespan. Against this backdrop, a European Union-funded COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action was undertaken from 2013-2017 entitled People-Friendly Cities in a Data Rich World. The Action culminated in a two-day Participatory Urbanism 2017 conference that brought together researchers, scientists, city planners, architects, public officials, urban activists, businesses, and NGOs from 30 countries. A crucial goal of this conference was to solicit both guiding principles and research questions that should be pursued in the quest to make cities more liveable for people and smarter for the planet. Here we present the main findings. Ultimately, it is hoped that these findings will help guide the creation of people-friendly cities in a data-rich world.

Pages:103 to 120
Section: Society
How to Cite
Leyden, K., Lipps, B. and Kambli, N. (2018) “Creating people-friendly cities in a data rich world: towards smarter and more liveable places”, The Journal of Public Space, 3(3), pp. 103-120. doi:

Author Biographies

Kevin M. Leyden is a Professor of Political Science & Public Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway and Director of the Social Science Research Centre. His research focuses primarily on the relationship between urban design, social capital, health, happiness and urban liveability. His research has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Environmental Health Perspectives, Environment International, Social Science & Medicine, British Journal of Political Science. Urban Affairs Review, Health & Place, the American Journal of Health Promotion, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning, and Policy Studies Journal, among others. Professor Leyden recently led the research workgroup associated with a EU funded COST Transit & Urban Development grant titled ”People Friendly Cities in a Data Rich World”.

DaVinci Institute
Belgium Belgium

With a background in non-profit management, Benita Lipps has more than 10 years of experience in managing European projects, networks and collaborations both within organisations and as a consultant. She is a board member of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE)  a member of the German Society for Culture and Cultural Politics (Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft) and a co-founder of the European Gender Summit. Before joining the DaVinci Institute, Benita was the Head of the Conference Unit at the European Science Foundation, where she restructured the ESF Research Conferences Scheme, creating quality assurance mechanisms and new partnerships, new series and new funders.
With her interdisciplinary background, Benita is focusses on supporting collaborations between creatives from science, society and culture through sound management, communication and engagement practices. She is regularly invited to speak about association  management and acts as independent expert and evaluator to the European Commission.

Citizen City
Belgium Belgium

Passionate about public spaces and social justice, Namita's research interests lie in place-making and in the creation of people-oriented, humane smart cities. As a Doctoral Scholar, she was the first person from the University of Auckland to receive a PhD in Urban Design. She is currently based in Brussels, Belgium and is working as a researcher on projects related to boosting citizen engagement in smart cities, such as Citizen City - an initiative of the EIP-SCC (European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities)


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