Back to All Events

Reimagining Planning, Data & Services in India's Cities

  • OpenGov Hub 1110 Vermont Avenue Northwest, Suite 500 Washington, DC, 20005 United States (map)

The OpenGov Hub is pleased to present a brown bag lunch (BBL) discussion on reimagining data, service delivery, and citizen engagement in cities with visitor Satyarupa Shekhar of the Civic Action Group in India. She will present her work in Chennai, India as a real-time case study in this field. 


India's central government has recently tried to reform planning processes in the country, often by demanding cities create new urban plans. Yet such plans seem to have had negligible effect on improving urban challenges, in part because they follow the same planning process that existing, failed master plans have followed.

By focusing on creating new plans, new planning interventions are missing an important opportunity to improve India's urban environments: namely, by supporting and providing tools and incentives for those government actors who currently do exercise significant control over urban spaces. These actors (such as elected municipal councillors and engineers) are not traditionally classified as “urban planners” but regularly put together and implement projects that re-shape the city or re-shape particular neighbourhoods within it.

Using a set of low-cost, simple tools that utilise improved mapping and data management, Satarupa will present on her work supporting innovative interventions working with these urban actors to effectively address civic concerns. This work suggests that effective responses to urban problems may also include changes not just in city-wide plan-making, but in providing the city’s de facto planners a practical set of tools. 

Bring your lunch and join in our event space for food for thought and baked treats. 

About the Presenter

Satyarupa Shekhar heads the Government Outreach and Advisory group at the Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), where she works to overcome challenges to access to basic services posed by a lack of data and information, while improving transparency and accountability. Her areas of interest are public administration, open data and the use of civic technology to improve governance. She conceptualised and leads the development of the Chennai Data Portal project - a unique engagement with the city government to bring a practical data-driven approach to urban governance. She is also one of the founding members of the Transparent Cities Network, which has the objective to transform urban governance with data, research and participation.

Prior to joining CAG, Satyarupa worked with the Transparent Chennai project at IFMR where she led the group's research on metropolitan governance and open data initiatives. She has also worked with the Centre for Development Finance at IFMR, Democracy Connect, the Indian School of Business and the World Social Forum 2004. Satyarupa holds a European Masters in Law and Economics degree from the University of Rotterdam, where she was an Erasmus Mundus scholar. She is a founding member of the Global Diplomacy Lab and is currently a Global Governance Futures fellow.