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If harnessed properly, user-generated data can help planners build cities that are more in tune with people's actual needs.To make use of all the information that people involuntarily produce, planners must improve how data is captured, analyzed and shared between the public and private sectors.One of the most significant innovations being embraced by the world's planning agencies is the concept of "open data," information that can be used by anyone to improve any aspect of public life. When combined with data from government sources – such as information on air quality, traffic patterns, crime or health statistics – user-generated information can lead to more sustainable cities.Today, roughly half of the world's population lives in cities, but cities account for approximately 75 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, which are largely attributable to transportation.A world of truly open data will take time to build; people will need to become comfortable with the idea of user-generated information circulating freely. But governments have already recognized the importance of open data in solving key planning challenges.
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