Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to rise to 6.5 billion, the vast majority of whom will be young people. By 2030, an estimated 60% of the urban population will be under 18. Young people are, and will continue to be, the driving force behind the future of our cities.
Rapid urbanisation is accompanied by the rapid spread of data-driven digital technologies that are being used to improve the management and governance of cities. These digital urban infrastructures can facilitate inclusive, democratic, and participatory decision-making, but they can also be used to surveil, monitor and ‘datafy’ people in public spaces, potentially endangering rights.
There is a growing potential for civic technology to empower urban residents in their interactions with city governments and bureaucracies, with studies suggesting that digitalisation increases citizens’ decision-making and participation in urban affairs. However, research on the power dynamics and entrenched socio-spatial inequalities in cities, driven by class, ethnicity, gender, and age, is limited and typically focuses on residents of cities in the Global North.
As a result of this narrow geographical and age focus, there is a significant knowledge gap on the potential and actual impacts of technology on youth in cities in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
TYPCities is a three-year research programme on “Technology and Youth Participation in the Governance of Intermediate Cities in Low and Middle Income Countries” that aims to generate original research at the intersection of urban governance, digitalisation, and youth participation to improve understanding of how technology can be used to enable youth participation in the day-to-day governance of intermediary cities in LMICs.
The funded research projects will produce empirical evidence and analytical findings on the role of different digital technologies in urban governance based on multi-site research within and across cities and countries. The findings will also inform other funded city programmes that promote youth participation and urban governance.
The programme consists of five research consortia spread around the globe:
- EPFL, Université Gaston Berger and Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique: ‘Digital policies, infrastructure development and youth participation in Saint-Louis and Ziguinchor’ (Senegal).
- Sheffield University, IIED and Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR): ‘Co-Constructing ‘Neighbourhoods Fit for Diverse Young People’: Civic Media Technologies for Equitable Urban Governance’ (Nepal and India).
- UCL (The Bartlett Development Planning Unit), SHM Foundation, CatalyticAction and Kota Kita: ‘Co-producing digital platforms for youth inclusive urban governance’ (Indonesia and Lebanon).
- LSE (LSE Cities), Universidad de los Andes, Universidad ICESI, Fundación Despacio, UCLG: ‘Next generation urban governance in Colombia’s vanguard intermediary cities (NextGenC)’ (Colombia).
- Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), Fight for Peace, Island City Lab and SlashRoots Foundation: ‘Technology and youth participation in governing Jamaica’s intermediary cities’ (Jamaica).
Cities fit for young people – Fondation Botnar