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Leveraging Cell Phones and Citizens to Transform Public Transport: Lessons from Nairobi

On August 23rd, 2017, Meeting of the Minds hosted a live webinar featuring Jackie Klopp from Columbia University & Digital Matatus Project and Henry Ochieng from Kenyan Alliance of Resident Associations.

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The rapid spread of cellphones across the globe creates new opportunities to engage citizens to improve public transport in our cities. Using cellphones, the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) and the Kenyan Alliance of Resident Associations surveyed Nairobi residents for the first time in Nairobi history about what they wanted from their transportation system. As a result, the project revealed major gaps in official planning. CSUD also co-founded the Digital Matatus Project which used GPS enabled cellphones to create and update high quality data on Nairobi’s bus system, allowing for trip planning and public transit maps where none existed before. Magic Bus and Ma3route are two more efforts which employ the creative use of cellphones and data for service improvements in Nairobi. Ma3route’s aim is to “bring greater sanity to the roads and inform city planning and transport regulation in emerging economies through the provision of transport data and trend analysis”. What can we learn from these experiments in leveraging cellphones to engage citizens and advocate for critical improvements in public transport in Nairobi? Hear from two of the leaders in this work from  the Center for Sustainable Urban Development and the Kenyan Alliance of Resident Associations who have been collaborating together for many years to improve public transport in Nairobi. http://www.digitalmatatus.com/about.html.


Jacqueline M. Klopp
Associate Research Scholar, Center for Sustainable Urban Development, Earth Institute
Columbia University
Digital Matatus Project

Jacqueline M. Klopp is currently an Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University, a Volvo Research and Education Foundations Center of Excellence in Future Urban Transport.  She taught for many years at the School of International and Public Affairs and now teaches in the Sustainable Development program at Columbia University. Her research focuses at the intersection of sustainable transport, land use, accountability, data and technology. Klopp is the author of numerous academic and popular articles on land and the politics of infrastructure with a focus on Africa and is increasingly exploring the potential of new technologies to impact transportation for the 21st Century. She is also a founder of Digital Matatus, a consortium that mapped out and created open data for bus routes in Nairobi Kenya, a project which is part of a global movement to create open data for improved public transportation.  

Henry Ochieng
Chief Executive Officer
Kenyan Alliance of Resident Associations

Henry Ochieng is the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA), the apex body representing the voice and pro-active action of resident associations on access to public service delivery and taxpayers’ rights in Kenya.

He has extensive experience and skills on policy advocacy and influencing, promoting effective social accountability strategies; community mobilization and capacity building; networking and partnerships; project cycle management; among others. Henry has designed and successfully overseen implementation of various programs on urban transportation and planning with the most recent being playing a leading role in the development of Non Motorized Transport policy supported by UNEP. He also led the engagement between KARA and Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) on the digital matatu project and especially the launch of transit data and map for Nairobi City.

He was a member of the Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee that was set up by the Governor of Nairobi City County to carry out a study of major transportation challenges facing the City, develop recommendations that will address current and projected traffic congestion, access delays and Non Motorized Transport infrastructure and develop a Transport Policy for the City.


August 23, 2017
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Event Category:


Meeting of the Minds
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