Written by Matt Stokes
A first run of the DSI Index
27th February 2019
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That’s the question at the core of our work on the experimental DSI index, which aims to understand the macro-level conditions which support the creation, growth and sustainability of DSI initiatives, and to understand how cities across Europe are performing on these conditions.
In July of last year we published the theoretical framework for the index, made up of 32 factors grouped into seven themes. We decided on these factors following extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders involved in DSI.
We spent the second half of 2018 sourcing, processing and analysing data for the Index from different sources (from Eurostat data to web-scraped data we collected ourselves from social media and other platforms), deciding which cities to include, assessing data quality and standardising indicators.
We’re now pleased to have published a first prototype of the Index and to share our preliminary findings.
We were relatively surprised by the first run of the data. We envisaged the results correlating strongly with our knowledge of DSI activity: it follows logically that the more supportive the ecosystem, the more DSI activity there will be.
For some cities, this held true: Amsterdam, London and Berlin, for example, all ranked high in the index. But overall, we did not see a strong correlation. Some cities which we consider to be leaders in DSI (such as Barcelona, Madrid and Paris) were relatively low down the list, while others we did not think of as hotspots performed well (such as Utrecht and Karlsruhe). Northern European cities also tend to fare much better than Southern European cities, which surprised us.
That’s now another core question we are addressing, and we’re looking forward to delving in much more deeply over the coming months. We’ve got a few ideas for why the expected correlation doesn’t exist, although in all likelihood it’s a combination of some of these (and maybe also others we haven’t thought of yet).
Three hypotheses concern methodological and/or quantitative aspects of the Index:
The other possible reasons why our results are surprising relate more to DSI concepts and theories:
Our first task is to ensure that we’ve done whatever we can reasonably do methodologically to ensure our Index is as accurate as possible. To that end, we’re revisiting a few of the data sources, refining the theoretical framework (including potentially rejigging some themes and their component indicators) and weightings, and carrying out sensitivity analysis (to understand the effect of subjective decisions in the framework development) and cluster analysis (understanding how cities share similar successes or challenges).
Once we’ve got there, we’ll be thinking in more depth about the theoretical and conceptual issues to understand how the Index can be of most use to policymakers, practitioners and researchers. We’ll also be creating interactive visualisations of the Index to help people understand the data most relevant to them, and we’ll be launching the Index at our final event in Warsaw in June.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the prototype index - particularly on any data sources or on the hypotheses we’ve come up with so far. Are there other things we’re missing? Email us on [email protected] with your feedback.
Finally, we’ve also launched a very quick (5 minute!) survey to try and understand more about seven of the trickiest indicators in the Index. We want to hear from anyone with a good general understanding of DSI, tech for good and civic tech in any EU country to fill it in. Please also share it with any other experts you know. If you know anyone in the following countries, we’d be especially grateful: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia.