Governing the GCR series: Strengthening governance in the GCR through a spatial data infrastructure - the case of address data
Geospatial data, such as administrative boundaries, property information, addresses, streets and utility networks, provide the backbone for city governance. Availability, accessibility and usability of such data and related services are typically facilitated through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), which requires careful stakeholder coordination and an information-driven approach that can unlock the value of geospatial data. This Provocation reviews the current state of affairs regarding address data in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) and explores prospects for coordinating a GCR address dataset in an SDI context.
The focus is on addresses because of their important role in service delivery, the socio-economic well-being of residents and the recognition of civic and human rights. For example, good quality addresses are vital in the current COVID-19 crisis, as government strives to map COVID-19 cases in order to identify emerging local clusters of infections and spatially target responses. Currently, address data in the GCR are maintained in silos at different provincial departments and municipalities, without any coordination and without adherence to international standards and good practices for addressing and information management. This results in duplication, inconsistencies and even fraud, which not only costs the municipalities, national and provincial governments billions but also damages their reputations.
To rectify this, this Provocation identifies various entities for taking the responsibility to methodically coordinate GCR address data into a single reference dataset. Since many entities have a legal accountability related to address data, a decision and strong political leadership are required to lead multiple interventions and initiatives in parallel with the aim of reaping benefits for governance and society in the long run. As Gauteng is one of few provinces with municipal address datasets, the GCR could serve as an example for coordinating the maintenance of geospatial datasets among its municipalities, as few (if any) such datasets exist in South African municipalities, provinces and national departments.
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Predicting xenophobic attitudes: Statistical path models of objective and subjective factors
In September 2019 a wave of xenophobic violence hit Gauteng, reportedly leaving more than ten people dead and over a thousand homeless.
Specific outbursts of xenophobic violence are difficult to anticipate, but they are fuelled by underlying xenophobic attitudes that are more enduring and widespread. This Provocation investigates possible predictors of these xenophobic attitudes, using statistical analysis of data from GCRO’s Quality of Life survey. If these predictors can be identified, they can be targeted by policy interventions and thereby the likelihood of violent outbreaks could be reduced.
Three previous analyses, published in the social-scientific literature, were bemused to find that respondents’ objective background conditions – such as unemployment, poverty, lesser education or residence in an informal settlement – appeared variously not to be correlated with xenophobic attitudes when examined in multivariable regressions. The reason, as explained in this Provocation, is that a deeper statistical analysis is required. Statistical path models reveal that objective factors are indeed at work, but take effect via mediating subjective factors such as depression and dissatisfaction.
The implication of the analysis in this Provocation may be construed as potentially optimistic, in two respects. On the one hand, it implies that what needs primarily to be addressed to mitigate xenophobic attitudes are the underlying circumstances of economic disadvantage (notably unemployment, hunger and housing). On the other hand, potentially more intractable identity issues such as race and political alienation – which feature large in, for example, the mobilising discourses of some political parties – would seem to be less salient than the objective factors as causes of xenophobic attitudes when results from a large population survey are adequately analysed.
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Governing the GCR series: Institutionalising the Gauteng City-Region
The Gauteng City-Region (GCR) is an uncertain concept, but diminishingly so; it is increasingly recognised in official and other discourse. Nonetheless, this growing acknowledgement of a city-region lying roughly from "somewhere north of Pretoria to the Vaal River (and sometimes beyond); and from east of Springs to west of Krugersdorp" (Mabin, 2013, p. 4) has not resulted in a settled consensus of what this means, or should mean, for the purposes of planning, public investment, or governance.
At its most basic, the concept of 'city-region' arises from the observation that the formal boundaries of a city seldom correspond to what we might otherwise conceive of as the 'city'. Municipal boundaries are useful for delineating the area of responsibility of this government or that (to a point) and as a result are useful for predicting the observable products of that responsibility: water pipes, garbage-collection routes, and so on. But they are much less useful for describing the very many non-government phenomena that also constitute a city, including flows of people, natural resources and raw materials, and goods and services; spatial patterns of development; and economic activity.
This Provocation is the first in a series on the topic of "governing the Gauteng City-Region". The piece introduces a number of considerations entailed in the governance of this city-region, and discusses the prospect of institutionalising that governance. Talk of institutionalisation originated recently within the Gauteng Provincial Government as a solution to various complexities of governance. This paper traces the development of the idea of institutionalising the city-region from its origin to its current state; it surveys the institutions that are currently, between them, responsible for GCR governance; and it explores the complexities of dividing powers and functions across a multi-layered, multi-dimensional field of governing institutions and their territories of operation.
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Linked to project(s):Governing the GCR Provocations Series
Brazil: Innovation and Development
This essay discusses recent developments in Brazil´s innovation policies. These policies are part of a long-term developmental process and the current search for a new national configuration of policies and instruments capable of steering Brazil in the midst of globalisation and economic systems that have knowledge as their backbone. Industrialisation became the main source of inspiration as a means of attaining social evolution in countries like Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico, Argentina and South Korea, to name a few; and in a sense this remains true today.
These roots have marked state institutions and underscore the modus operandi of government planners. Brazil´s prospects for overcoming poverty, inequality and the burden of late development can be described as a process of attaining a better balance between earlier achievements and the current process of institution-building aimed at providing Brazil with the policies and instruments to support innovation as a means of achieving social and economic development.
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The decanting of acid mine water in the Gauteng City-Region
The large void beneath the Witwatersrand created by gold mining over the last 120 years is filling with water, which is rising at about 15m per month. The void will fill and water will begin to leak out (decant) on surface in about three years from now. It is likely that multiple decant points will develop in municipal areas across the Witwatersrand from Roodepoort to Boksburg. experience on the West Rand has shown that the quality of the water is likely to be poor and toxic.
The prime risk area where decant points are likely to develop is in a zone about 500m wide straddling Main Reef Road and the M2 motorway, plus a secondary zone some two kilometres to the south. deep basements of buildings and other sub-surface infrastructure in the risk zones could experience flooding and the underground facility at Gold Reef City, a national treasure, will be lost.
The problem can be solved by establishing pump stations at shallow depth in the mining belt to keep the water at a safe depth below surface. a depth of 300m is recommended in order to protect the Gold Reef City facility. The technological capability to do this is readily available, and the necessary water treatment processes are well established. Although initially expensive, the pumping operation may ultimately generate a profit. Moreover, the cost of not pumping may ultimately vastly exceed the cost of timely intervention. establishing the necessary pumping and water treatment infrastructure will take considerable time, and therefore immediate action is required.
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