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Empower and enable communities and city decision makers through a single entry Community Cockpit portal which links projects, data, apps.

Photo of Catherine Allinson Future Earth Ltd

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Problem: no direct route for 2-way interaction between vulnerable communities and policy makers to develop integrated solutions to climate smart infrastructure and service provision or ways to raise awareness to improve resilience at scale. No single repository for data, info and help to improve resilience. Idea: design and test a “Community Cockpit” - a digital portal accessible from any digital device at home, in schools or community centres with all data and information about the slum community and its risks. Mobile phone pictures, recorded stories, crowd sourced data on water, fire, heat or floods, policy documents, and open source demographic, economic and infrastructure data about the community and the risks it faces can be housed. All backed by an integrated systems model to help decision making with a direct connection to decision makers. The Community Cockpit will be linked to the "" integrated systems platform (already being built with DfID funding) to enable cities to better plan and invest in low carbon, sustainable solutions. Both are maintained collectively and housed at an appropriate academic institution. Solution: 1) provides a free repository of data and information to vulnerable communities; 2) educates and empowers vulnerable communities and related CSOs to contribute to the decision making process on issues, solutions, policies, practices; 3) provides an open source evidence base to hold decision-makers to account


Beneficiaries: The Communities Cockpit portal and entry app will be designed for vulnerable communities as a central repository for GIS, open source and government data and info. Communities will have free access via their phones to the same data and information as decision-makers, from one place, in a co-designed format for ease of use by a wide range of educational levels. 76.5% population in Accra have a mobile phone. Where? Any city with slums and climate risk. We already work in Accra.


The platform is being constructed as part of the Future Cities Africa DfID project for use in cities by municipalities & governments AND importantly slum communities to ensure they are part of the decision-making process for resilience. We will co-design a single 'go to space' where all data and information about climate change risks (demographic, floods, heat, health, sanitation, buildings) is equally accessible to communities to improve their ability to access, learn, act and communicate horizontally and vertically. Ordinary - the tool is for integrated risk and resilience planning System - the Community Cockpit will be co-designed with and target the most vulnerable. Flexible - the Cockpit will be designed with slum communities and is flexible for use on mobile phones, laptops and can integrate SEWA Spread the Word app or Neysan Zolzer's OpenIDEO suggestions Resources - the Cockpit will be linked to the resource flow model for in depth insights into how communities and resources are affected by climate change, supporting local planning authorities and ODA projects with integrated data and information. Gender - the Cockpit will be designed by both genders including the youth but women will be empowered and comprise 52.4% mobile phone users in e.g. Accra area. Collaboration - the Cockpit will be designed with slum community(ies) and would work well in combo with Rainbowgate Network Neighbourhood Scheme Works in any city and is a 'free at point of use' communal space connecting city leaders directly with the community


  • Yes, between one and two years


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years


  • Yes


The Ecological Sequestration Trust was formed in 2011 by Peter Head, CBE, to demonstrate at city scale how to address energy, water, food security in the face of the combined challenges of changes of climate, demography and increasing resource-scarcity. We work with UNISDR, UNSDSN, Habitat and more.


We have not started to build the Community Cockpit but developing user interfaces (Sector Cockpits) has been planned as part of the "integrated systems model" development (currently being built with seed funding from DfID). OpenIDEO funding would allow us to work with a vulnerable community to build a prototype for replication elsewhere and provide a single entry point for all data and information on risk and resilience, appropriate products and services collected from a wide variety of sources - GIS, open source, government and of course dedicated apps as suggested by other applicants to this competition.


We are building a "world first city scale integrated systems model" for resilience. The difference is that it does not just layer data and information but shows the impact of any change in any circumstances (demographic, climate, resource use, productivity etc.) which vastly improves the ability of communities and governments to assess the effect of e.g. flood defence, sanitation or heat interventions prior to investment. The Communities Cockpit will allow the vulnerable the same access to data and info as those who can pay for it, so communities can: a) contribute to planning and investment decisions using robust evidence and b) develop their own business cases for investment attracting new private sector product and service solutions from within the communities as well as from outside. e.g. sanitation in Accra. The more linked Apps, data and information fed into the Communities Cockpit the richer a resource it will become. Using this evidence base communities can mobilize private sector finance to help build resilience related Products and Services. We are happy to link with others to ensure a holistic solution is found to de-risk improve resilience at community scale.


1. How will the community users interact with the Community Cockpit. What are the priority Apps they would like to see listed on the Community Cockpit? 2. How do we design it so that both illiterate users can contribute e.g. uploading their stories recorded on mobile phones and literate users can access the most robust data and information to help empower them? 3. Are other OpenIDEO applicants happy to share their app data and info in a central Community Cockpit repository? 4. How well would the Community Cockpit answer the need by city planners and decision makers to interact with the slum communities and test their proposed interventions?


Computational big data cloud power, satellite mapping/ITC technologies and the open data movement have come together now to provide a new way to tackle the global and community level challenge of climate change. ITC has exploded across Africa - 76.5% people in Accra have mobile phones which be used to inform, educate and connect people to improve resilience to climate change. We must act swiftly to harness this for the most vulnerable and provide the same access to them as to governments. There is power in knowledge, data, evidence but to date no one has provided a repository open for all to use and contribute into like our Community Cockpit.


For this competition, we have worked together, conducted team and brainstorming sessions, reached out to other OpenIDEO applicants and travelled to Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana to conduct semi-structured interviews. Our initial idea was to create a website accessible from any digital device. Based on feedback from the slums the key transferable messages we learnt and are adopting are: 1. The self-adoption of smart phone technology and willingness to pay for low cost internet packages renders almost the entire slum community reachable if a practical and easy to use Community Cockpit is created and well publicized. 2. We will change our initial idea to create a single point of entry through the Community Cockpit to a further range of information, apps, products and services (with other applicants here), which can help to inform communities and increase their resilience to climate change risks. Importantly, these will then be able to be linked to the integrated 3D systems model to improve granularity of data and information. 3. The Community Cockpit will become a resource for and provide a direct route to decision makers - we have already founded a cross-sector working group in Accra with municipality, uni and private sector interested in 2-way communication with communities. Data will add value to e.g. the UNDP Community Resilience through Early Warning project


Incremental development will not deliver the necessary step changes to address the systemic challenges of climate change, resource consumption and urbanisation,and the required outcomes for health and wellbeing – for individuals, communities, economies, and the natural and built environments. The radical shifts required can only come from systems innovation and active collaboration across multiple disciplines and by all communities. We need to give practical tools to communities to enable them to build resilience and connect those most at risk to policy makers and implementers to enable smarter decision making.


Is OpenIDEO seeking transformational projects which address climate resilience using integrated systems technology which would be enabled by the Community Cockpit or is it a traditional project by project based approach?

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

The Community Cockpit is just one of several cockpits (Water Cockpit; Energy Cockpit; Governance Cockpit, Transport Cockpit etc.) which will be built to improve resilience to climate change at city level. We will work with other apps. The model sits behind each cockpit for users to assess resource flows at city scale, for example, water, energy, food, minerals, so that cites can better manage critical supporting ecosystems. The cockpits will all be linked together such that previously poorly connected operational silos can consider the best solutions across different climate scenarios, each area can be deeply investigated and the vital links between sectors e.g. water service interruption and energy networks better understood. The municipal authorities, academics and communities are fully involved. The Community Cockpit approach is holistic and will ensure the sum impact of the OpenIDEO contributing apps and initiatives are greater than the whole.
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Attachments (5)

OpenIDEO Community Cockpit User Experience Map.pdf

Our user story - Afia needs information on the likely causes of cholera. Where does she go for help?

OpenIDEO Community Cockpit Test Your Prototype.pdf

Why we are doing this and what we are learning along the way

OpenIDEO Community Cockpit Survey 19 Nov 2015.pdf

We travelled to Accra to carry out a Community Cockpit survey with slum community members specifically for this competition. Here are the results.

Mile 1 platform report.pdf

This is our public Platform Report outlining the entire, ambitious project. Please turn to page 11 which relates to the creation of sector specific Cockpits to enable communities access to the wealth of data and information inside


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Catherine!

Below is some feedback from our experts. We'd love to hear your responses!

Help us understand why this unique app is needed? Why can't existing platforms be adapted to accomplish something similar?

What do you think is the critical problem? Is it the availability of data or the whether there is any realistic chance of dialogue?

How would you get started - I can see this as a tool for activists but to be really taken notice of it needs to be used widely - what would be the value for users who provide the information?

Photo of Catherine Allinson Future Earth Ltd

1. The Community Cockpit is a 2-way window to creating vibrant, resilient and sustainable cities. We know slum dwellers feel their voices/needs are unheeded by decision makers and they lack access to useful data and information. CSOs represent a relatively small percentage of the community. Municipal decision makers do want to reach out the community but lack channels to do so beyond district assemblies/forums - often with vested interest bias. There is no direct, open 2-way communication channel.
Resilience to climate change in slums is low and risks high, which is why the Mayor of Accra pledged 10% municipal budget on resilience strategies and projects at COP21. Great, but how will a financial injection help? How can strategies be developed with and communicated to the slum community, so that they are empowered to create and improve their own resilience?
Frankly, the variety of apps, maps, capacity building suggestions made on OpenIDEO are all of great value but they are disjointed and do not provide a holistic, integrated approach for slum communities who want to improve overall resilience to climate change. A Community Cockpit draws these all together in one place AND provides access to the same data/info to improve resilience which decision makers can access. It will provide a channel through which communities can respond to proposed strategies or project suggestions openly and without fear of retribution.
Imagine a digital space (with an easy access smart phone friendly entrance app) designed with slum communities where slum dwellers can actively respond to suggested strategic plans and project designs directly, giving the community the power to: 1. Access data information and 2. Respond to data and information in easy, relevant form.
It is not possible to adapt an existing platform because none are integrated with the integrated systems model. It will allow data to be interpreted and give insights about e.g. the links between predicted temperature / sea level rise, vector borne disease prevalence and the effect on human productivity, an important considerations where >80% GDP is derived from the informal economy as in Accra. Similarly, the municipality will be able to assess population and economic growth within a slum settlement, and the associated resources needed to sustain the health of the population if no action on flood defences and improved water storage facilities is taken.

2. We think data availability is a temporary issue and will be resolved through e.g. the UNSDSN Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, the Open Data for Africa and other initiatives. The connection to the systems model and resource flow illustrations means that much less data is needed to enable communities to understand their place and how to improve it. The dialogue has already started via our cross-sector group in Accra. When municipalities upload a suggestion or design proposition to the Community Cockpit and the community responds using the evidence base of the data so it will not be possible for decision makers to ignore voices because of the transparency of the Cockpit. Once a community sees its opinions are being heeded a positive spiral is induced whereby community participation leads to improved sense of place based identity and likely success of social and policy based interventions by the municipality (Royal Society, 2015) e.g. Chile slum dwellers contributed to the design of sea walls and rebuilding of the slum (A. Aravena, 2014).

3. A 3 part answer:
1. For individuals not interested in using the data and information, municipalities, academic researchers and private sector companies developing new products and services for sale who require ground truthing will very likely pay for the data to be collected and uploaded to improve the granularity of the modelling results. Individuals can use it for business cases.
2. The Community Cockpit backed tackles the root of the “access to funding” barrier. Information is power - the cockpit provides data and evidence for business cases to help tackle risk and resilience. Often the resilience of communities is underestimated - this Cockpit will help communities build their adaptive ideas into robust revenue generating P&S and give a platform to advertise these.
3. The Community Cockpit is one part of the overall plan. Since Nov. 2014, we have been working closely with municipal authorities (Mo Local Gov, National Development Planning Authority, Accra Met. Assembly and other districts), the local uni who continually, private sector companies who provide P&S e.g. sanitation services at scale. We bring these together with the slum communities in a “Collaboratory”, which is a cross-sector group, dedicated to “building collective intelligence on resilience” and spreading the word about and value of the model in tackling climate change risk and resilience. This group is now active.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Catharine,

Thanks for the detailed response!

It's really great that feedback from the community has helped to refine your idea. I'm curious, what type of information did community members indicate they were most interested in receiving? 

You mention that this data might be lucrative for businesses. Have you thought about how they might pay for this initiative? What do you think the impact would be if users knew that the information they shared might be used this way?

Is an initiative of your organization? Are the other cockpits up and running? If so, what have you learned about the use of them so far?

Have you been working on the Community Cockpit since late last year? If so, where are you now in the work and what is the next step? Where do you foresee using Amplify support?

Photo of Catherine Allinson Future Earth Ltd

1. There was an overriding sense that a Community Cockpit would provide a sense of identity and community cohesion – a sense of place and ownership for a site dedicated to the community. The main issue is land rights making it difficult for slum dwellers to plan, build and invest in their future. In Old Fadama, Accra they fear the bulldozer and lack of / late warning means many are caught out – a dedicated Community Cockpit where notice of evictions / curtailing of services would help. Associated risks like water, sanitation and electricity supply information is also of interest.
Where land issues are resolved, communities want a hand in designing their own neighbourhoods a) they live there and b) slum community economies contribute significantly to GDP of which they are well aware.

Delving deeper, they also want info on areas for business expansion e.g. would be able to sell commodities in bulk if information on markets and how to access them were improved; educational facilities and the cost of these in/outside the slums was also of interest and naturally they’re keen on social interaction – games, music, Facebook. We are already planning an educational gaming version of

2. Yes, data is lucrative for all businesses but national and personal data protection laws will be upheld. There will be access to open source data and data synthesized in the model, which specifically helps communities and cities to assess and evaluate economic, social and ecological outcomes from interventions prior to implementation. The Cockpit will “improve communication between a community and the city planners and investors” and only responsible P&S will be able to advertise. There will be no charge for using the data and information in the Cockpit which is free at point of use. However, the Cockpits will be governed, monitored and managed by the independent Collaboratory (which includes community representation – Slum Dwellers Int’l and People’s Dialogue are already members in Accra) and the university to prevent abuse.

Our community feedback suggested that individuals would upload data to the Cockpit if they thought it would be useful to others in their community. E.g. OpenIDEO applicants Rainbow Gate "ToiGlue" would benefit from knowing how many people have sufficient disposable income for a home toilet and to  keep up payments for collection, which goes to a central fermentation facility for energy generation and contributes to the GHG emissions reductions targets for the city. We envisage that a responsible business/NGO like this would advertise an initiative, pay individuals to collect data and upload to the site (where the university will verify and ring fence where necessary) for all to use – community and city. This already happens across many slum communities.

3. Yes, pioneered by Peter Head, CBE (please follow him on Twitter). The Community Cockpit is our priority (bringing the voice of the community to the centre of planning resilience and sustainable development) and we will use this template to build others. Our partners are global leaders in cockpit design and data visualization, also responsible for developing the vast EC INSPIRE open data base  available to all government and associated institutions across Europe. They have already produced this for planners  and we look forward to working with them on the Community Cockpit.

4. We have been working on the project in e.g. Accra, Ghana and UB, Mongolia since last year. The Cockpits are one part of this vision. We have draft contracted Geodan and spent time building the Collaboratory and trust by engaging local authorities: Accra Met. Assembly, Nat. Dev’nt. Planning Council, Regional Coordinating Council, Min of Local Gov and Rural Dev’nt, Mayor’s Office, University of Ghana, Slum Dwellers Int’l, People’s Dialogue (all on board now) and spending time in the Accra slum communities. We have not yet started the actual Cockpit design and building work because we want to do that WITH the communities.
Amplify support would permit us to build a template cockpit and the first iteration of the Community Cockpit with a local community of slum dwellers and city planners. We have a leading digital design front end developer on our team and ready to start building this holistic and transformational communication tool.

An aside re the many individual risk reducing/educational apps: There is significant work being done on apps to connect space data for resilience to climate change and help DRR by to be showcased at DAVOS next year. Happy to share pdf via email. We are investigating integrating them into the UNISDR AR!SE programme in which the model is already the data centrepiece.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Thank you very much! This was very helpful to read. 

Photo of Catherine Allinson Future Earth Ltd

I'm glad, its a pleasure being asked questions because it leads to further discussion/creation this end (I even rang Abdallah in the slum in Accra to cross check some details) and do let me know via email if you'd like to view the WEF GAC S pdf - its inspiring work on flooding, earthquakes and refugee crisis. 

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Catherine! So glad to hear. Is the document too much to upload on our platform? (sometime's that's the case) If it isn't, it would be great to upload the pdf to your idea so that anyone taking a look at your idea has the chance to read it if they're interested. Thanks!

Photo of Catherine Allinson Future Earth Ltd

Hi again - the WEF GAC S doc is not my idea/work but more to inform the OpenIDEO team about significant apps already developed to address climate change risk before any investment takes place into potential duplicates.  Simon Ratcliffe at DfID London shared the doc, so he would be able to let you know if we are able to post it publically.   All the best for the festive period.

Photo of Chioma Ume

Okay, thank you! 

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