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An Applied Data Justice Framework: Analysing Datafication and Marginalised Communities in Cities of the Global South

Richard Heeks and Satyarupa Shekhar

Global Development Institute Working Paper Series from GDI, The University of Manchester

Abstract: Rapid recent growth in the role of data within international development has meant analysis of this phenomenon has been lagging; particularly, analysis of broader impacts of real-world initiatives. Addressing this gap through a focus on data’s increasing presence in urban development, this paper makes two contributions. First – drawing from the emerging literature on “data justice” – it presents an explicit, systematic and comprehensive new framework that can be used for analysis of datafication. Second, it applies the framework to four initiatives in cities of the global South that capture and visualise new data about marginalised communities: residents living in slums and other informal settlements. Analysing across procedural, rights, instrumental and structural dimensions, it finds these initiatives deliver real incremental gains for their target communities. But it is external actors and wealthier communities that gain more; thus increasing relative inequality.

Date: 2018
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