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Driving Creativity with Data

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Driving Creativity with Data

February 5, 2020

Creative imagination and the right data is helpful when looking for solutions to difficult problems. In this blog, we learn more about an innovative thinker in Mexico City that got the combination right. To learn more about combining creative design and analytics participate in one of our workshops or reach out to the Impact Signal team.

In the Power of One podcast series, it profiles Gabriella Gómez-Mont, a woman who works to reimagine the modern city. In the podcast, we see how she uses data to drive the creative process.

Gabriella founded the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, the experimental arm and creative think tank of the Mexico City government. Gabriella considers herself to be a professional problem solver, who has spent time as a journalist and documentary filmmaker. The lab-based in Mexico City—with 22 million area residents and a labyrinthian government structure—has plenty of problems that accompany dense urban cities such as water quality, air quality, traffic congestion and public safety. The lab’s team included artists, graphic designers, policy experts, social scientists, data analysts, architects, urban geographer, and experts in civic tech and AI.

One of the first things Gabriella did in her mandate was to try to understand what the problems look like. To do this, she aggregated numbers, data, and statistics from a variety of sources and used visualization techniques to view the problems from different angles. One of these views painted a picture of a neglected group of five million children—a group that is similar to the population size of Ireland or Costa Rica—living in certain parts of Mexico City. These children are living in neighbourhoods not designed for them but are only there as a consequence of settlements that grew informally with the city. Often, many of these neighbourhoods were high in crime with few urban spaces for children to play and where members of the community could congregate and bond around the shared joys of youth.

With this information, the team set about thinking about how they could create urban green spaces in these high-density neighbourhoods that needed them. This is when they started to get creative and found ways to make streets into urban green spaces at regular intervals. They worked with gang leaders, maids, and taxi drivers that all wanted something better for their kids. By the time the project concluded, they created mobile playgrounds that were safe areas of play for children and connectors for the community and inspired several other similar projects. Data and statistics helped them frame a specific challenge they could then set their creativity to work to find a solution.



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