Photography by:
  • Kamogelo Lebotse, Prince Mphomane, Mark Lewis

GCRO data governance strategy (2022)

Data is at the heart of the GCRO’s work. Data, in many forms, underpins our research projects, and is a core ingredient in our generation of insights to guided informed policy making. In order to ensure that our data and analysis reaches a broad audience, including academics, researchers, students, government, and civil society, the GCRO produces a wide range of outputs. These include our Quality of Life survey datasets.

The purpose of this project is to develop a GCRO data governance strategy, to strengthen data management, data sharing, and dissemination of research. The strategy will build on the GCRO’s data principles, and guide the organisation in their implementation. Key components include a commitment to open data, compliance with all applicable legislation (including POPIA), and an approach to dissemination guided by the needs of data users. This will reinforce the GCRO’s status as a cutting-edge data organisation, and strengthen our ability to showcase our data and research products.

The data governance strategy has been finalized and incorporated into the GCRO. A data governance committee has been established to take forward the strategy.

The GCRO data principles

In 2019, in close collaboration with Richard Gevers from Open Cities Lab, the GCRO drafted a set of nine data principles. These have been adopted by the organisation, and have fed into the GCRO’s five-year strategic framework.

The data principles are as follows:

Principle 1: Interoperability and Optimisation

The understanding of the users and use of GCRO outputs within a multidisciplinary and multi actor space means that GCRO data, and the systems and processes that allow for the generation, collation, processing, storage, analysis and dissemination of GCRO data need to be interoperable and both human and machine readable. Furthermore, systems and processes within GCRO should be optimised for data use. To this end, data standards will be created that empower data sharing and comparability.

Principle 2: Purpose

For building a city-region that is functionally integrated, spatially coherent, economically vibrant, innovative, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. GCRO data needs to be optimised to ensure it is able to be used for the purpose of furthering the development of the future city-region and informing other city-regions both locally and globally.

Principle 3: Partnership and findability

Data, and the processes and systems that underpin it, need to be designed around the user problem frame and within user-centric design approaches. In this way, each user is able to find, understand, use and create impact from GCRO data.

Principle 4: Open by default

GCRO is committed to the open-ended sharing of data and subscribes to the belief that open data will empower the most widespread use and impact to achieve the mission of the organisation. To this end, data should be open by default, which does not mean all raw data is open without restriction, but that there should be a valid justification for the reason certain data is kept private, such as to comply with protection of personal information, otherwise data is open. To empower this, the GCRO commits to establishing the correct open licenses that empowers the optimal use of its data by users.

Principle 5: Quality of data

The quality of data is of paramount importance to the GCRO, and the organisation upholds to ensure the completeness, uniqueness, timeliness, validity, accuracy and consistency of its data, as well as maintaining systems and processes such that data quality is consistent over time and throughout the data areas of the GCRO.

Principal 6: Access, use of data and good outcomes

GCRO data should be free to use, appropriately licensed, and within common standards for users to use effectively. Furthermore and understanding the nature of the South African context, and the mission of the GCRO, special effort will be made to ensure the understandability and usability of the data, in terms of the levels of access and literacy each user type experiences, so as to drive equality rather than sameness.

Principal 7: Empowerment internal and external

Further to access and usage, the GCRO believes in the importance of fostering a data community both internally and externally with partners that drives for excellence and continues to progress the field of evidence-based decision making for policy and implementation. Skills development and insourcing of skills is a strategic focus of the organisation to support this.

Principle 8: Privacy and security and responsible data use

GCRO is committed to responsible data use and to the protection of personal information. Data is stored and processed in a safe and controlled manner without revealing private information and internal systems as well as platforms that have external use are designed to be safe and secure, accordingly to global best practice, to avoid abuse and unauthorised access of any private information, and to do no harm to its users.

Principle 9: Alignment with law and legislation

GCRO is committed to upholding the constitution of South Africa, as well as all legislation and law with regard to data and information, including POPIA, PAIA, SDIA and other relevant acts.

Last updated: 4 November 2022.


The GCRO sends out regular news to update subscribers on our research and events.