UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Governing Urban Data for the Public Interest

13 March 2024, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

In conversation with Dr Francesca Bria, Prof. Rainer Kattel and Theo Blackwell

Watch UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose's (IIPP) discussion around the access to Urban Data held on Wednesday 13th March 2024 at 17:30-19:00 (GMT).

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







IIPP Comms


University College London
11 Montague Street

Watch here

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About this talk:

The panel will discuss how to enable cities and communities to access and use urban data to gain better democratic control of urban space and provide more effective public services.

The discussion will focus on the findings and recommendations of the recent report ‘Governing Urban Data for the Public Interest’. The report combines insights from many years of data-sharing experience with the specific insights gained from an experiment on urban data sharing in the City of Hamburg. It demands developing and using a set of legal tools, organisational capabilities and digital public infrastructures that will enable cities to ensure that urban data benefits not only a few but society at large.

This event is hybrid, join in person or online here.

Read more about IIPP Conversations 2023-24

About the Speakers

Francesca Bria

Innovation economist and digital policy expert and Honorary Professor at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP)

Francesca Bria
Francesca Bria is the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund and a Board Member of the Italian public broadcast company RAI. She is Honorary Professor in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL in London and she is part of the High-level Roundtable for the New European Bauhaus set up by the EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

She is the former Chief Digital Technology and Innovation Officer for the City of Barcelona in Spain. In this role, she was leading the smart city Agenda and she was one of the founders of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, a UN-backed platform to promote sustainable digitization and urban digital transformation that works for the benefit of all. She has served as Senior Adviser to the United Nation (UN-Habitat) on digital cities and digital rights, launching the People-focused smart cities programme at the World Urban Forum convened in Abu Dhabi that promotes the deployment of technological innovations to realize sustainability, inclusivity, and human rights. Francesca Bria is leading the DECODE project on data sovereignty in Europe, is a member of the European Commission high level expert group Economic and Societal Impact of Research and Innovation (ESIR), and a Senior Adviser on the EC programme STARTS (Innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology and the Arts).

Francesca has a PhD in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Imperial College, London and MSc on Digital Economy from University of London, Birbeck. As Senior Programme Lead at Nesta, the UK Innovation Agency, she has led the EU D-CENT project, the biggest European Project on digital democracy platforms and digital currencies. She also led the DSI4EU project, advising the EU on digital social innovation policies and mission-driven innovation. She has been teaching in several universities in the UK and Italy and she has advised Governments, public and private organizations on technology and innovation policy, and its socio-economic and environmental impact.

Francesca has been nominated Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. She is in Politico annual ranking of the 28 power players behind Europe’s tech revolution, and she is also Culture Persons of the Year 2020 according to the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). She has been listed in the top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes Magazine, and in the World's top 20 most influential people in digital government by Apolitical. She has also been featured in the Italian Magazine Repubblica "D", amongst the 100 Women Changing the World.

More about Francesca Bria

Theo Blackwell

Chief Digital Officer at Greater London Authority (GLA)

Theo Blackwell
As London’s first CDO, Theo plays a leading role in realising the Mayor’s ambition to make London the world’s smartest city, ensuring that the capital’s status as a global tech hub helps transform the way public services are designed and delivered, making them more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners. 

He joined the Mayor’s team following work at GovTech accelerator Public Group, advising start-ups on the growing market in local public services, and was previously Head of Policy & Public Affairs for the video games industry’s trade body, Ukie – where he ran a ‘Next Gen Skills’ campaign to get coding back on the curriculum. 

Theo also sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Leaders and is a director of Camden Town Unlimited, a Business Improvement District which pioneered new start-up incubation in ‘meanwhile’ space. 

More about Theo Blackwell

Rainer Kattel

Deputy Director and Professor of Innovation and Public Governance at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP)

Rainer Kattel
Rainer Kattel is Deputy Director and Professor of Innovation and Public Governance at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). He has studied at the University of Tartu, Estonia, and the University of Marburg, Germany, in philosophy, political philosophy, classics and public administration.
He led Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance for 10 years, building it into one of the leading innovation and governance schools in the region. 

Professor Kattel has also served on various public policy commissions, including the Estonian Research Council and European Science Foundation. He has worked as an expert for the OECD, UNDP and the European Commission, and served as a member of E-Estonia Council advising the Prime Minister of Estonia. Currently, he leads the Estonian Government’s Gender Equality Council.

He has published extensively on innovation policy, its governance and specific management issues. In 2013, he received Estonia's National Science Award for his work on innovation policy. Rainer received his BA in political philosophy in 1996, MA in Classics in 1998, and PhD in Public Administration in 2001 (all University of Tartu, Estonia).

More about Rainer Kattel

Henri Verdier

French Ambassador for Digital Affairs at French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Henri Verdier
Henri Verdier, born in 1968, is the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs within the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Since 2018, he leads and coordinates the French Digital Diplomacy. He previously was the inter-ministerial director for digital information and communications systems (DG DINUM) of France; and he was the director of Etalab, the French agency for public open data.Mr Verdier is also an entrepreneur: he was the co-founder and CEO of MFG Labs, an internet-based startup involved in social data mining, and chairman of the board of Cap Digital, the French-European Cluster for Digital Content and Services, located in Paris. He is member of the ARCEP strategic committee, member of the CNIL strategic committee and also served as member of the board of Paris-Sorbonne University. In addition, Mr Verdier was the founding director of Edition Odile Jacob Multimedia, a publishing company in the field of e-learning and executive adviser for innovation at Lagardère Group as well as director of foresight at Institut Telecom. He co-authored three books: in 2012, with Nicolas Colin, L'Age de la Multitude, Entreprendre et Gouverner Après la Révolution Numérique (The Age of Multitude, Entrepreneurship and Governance After the Digital Revolution), in 2017, with Pierre Pezziardi, Des Startup d’État à l’État plateforme ( From State Startups to the Platform State), and in 2022, with Jean-Louis Missika, Le Business de la haine : Internet, la démocratie et les réseaux sociaux ( The Business of Hate: Internet, Democracy and Social Networks ). Mr Verdier is a graduate of Ecole Normale Supérieure. More about Henri Verdier