< Current Projects

Reimagining and Reinventing Open Data Policy within Local Government environment

Project Timelines:

March 2023 – March 2024


A 2019 paper noted and recommended that transparency and openness of data should help to overcome the barrier of a larger deployment of smart city projects and recommended that a Data and Information Sharing structure within SALGA and implementing municipalities to drive exchange of relevant information on a larger scale, is critical. However only a negligible number of municipalities have open data platforms and are consistently realising releasing machine readable data through these portals. Even a smaller number of municipalities have adopted an open data policy that is available and downloadable on their websites.


There is therefore an opportunity to co-create and develop an Open Data Policy Guideline and Framework for all cities and municipalities in order to accelerate the adoption of their Open Data initiatives.

It is clear from the diagnosis widely available in literature, including by SACN, SALGA and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) that there are pockets of excellence in cooperation between cities to release data sets to enhance governments’ decision-making, a good example being the Common Data Framework for Cities (CDFC). There is still a need to drive exchange of data on an open, transparent and larger scale beyond close collaborators as is the case in the CDFC.

The proposed project would therefore complement the existing data exchange mechanisms and enable a large number of local government administrations to work together to co-design a set of principles for open data.

The aim of the project is therefore to

  • assess the current implementation of open data policies that promotes transparency and openness in smart cities,
  • establish regulatory gaps that inhibits the large-scale implementation and
  • establish a set of principles that can be adopted by local governments nationally.


The resulting open data policy framework would enable the following benefits, among others:

  • Providing a common, reliable evidence base to inform city decision-making and improve effectiveness and identifying opportunities, improving services and sharing with all levels of government and non-government organisations.
  • Strengthening public understanding and trust of city operations and other information concerning their communities and raising the bar on external scrutiny and accountability.
  • Encouraging the development of innovative technology solutions and data analytics by a broader group of stakeholders and thereby creating new markets and generating economic opportunities for individuals and companies that benefit from the knowledge and functions created by open data.

Anticipating and capturing benefits from new digital technologies such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, whilst proactively managing any potential downside and risks.

Key Stakeholders

  • Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)
  • South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
  • South African Cities Network (SACN)
  • City of Johannesburg
  • City of Tshwane
  • City of eThekwini
  • City of Cape Town
  • Western Cape Government
  • Department of Public Service and Administration
  • Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Outputs Produced

The internal outputs from the project will include:

  • Project plans (updated regularly throughout the project, specifically at the end of phase 1)
  • A project brief, produced at the beginning of the project and updated at the end phase 1 as input to co-design phase
  • Marketing materials for the project

The external outputs from the project will include:

  • A briefing paper summarizing key findings from a close examination of open data initiative within the local government sphere in South Africa with a focus on existing barriers and charting a path forward
  • An open data actionable policy framework and tools that includes the declaration of principles (e.g., Open Data Charter) and a guideline for how local governments can develop specific mandates for how data will be treated.

Expected key outcome of the project will be a network of initial set of adopters signed and committed to incorporating those principles in new or existing policies and a South Africa smart city alliance made up of local, provincial and national government as well as private sector and civil society. The target for initial adopters is 4 cities forming an initial set of adopters (with a combination of metros and districts) in two provinces. It is expected that the South African smart city alliance will grow the number of adopters organically across all provinces.


The expected outcomes of the above outputs are as follows:

  • Municipalities to utilise the framework as a guideline to effectively initiate and implement Open Data initiatives within their city.
  • New/Updated government policy guideline or regulation for the implementation of Open Data in local governments.

Current Partners

Founding Partners

An initiative of the Department of Science and Innovation, managed and hosted by the CSIR and affiliated to the World Economic Forum.

Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2024 C4IR South Africa. All rights reserved.

Powered by Pii Digital