As the UN specialized agency on human settlements, UN-Habitat has been at the forefront in finding solutions to the urban information crisis, helping countries increase access to reliable information that provides insights into urban conditions and trends worldwide, and supporting the monitoring and reporting on global agendas. Specifically, the Data and Analytics Unit of UN-Habitat (formerly known as the Global Urban Observatory Unit) has been leading the development of tailor-made urban monitoring solutions to understand and measure urban development trajectories and conditions. This ranges from the development of the urban observatory model; management of the urban indicators database; the Millennium Development Goals indicators monitoring, including the design and global monitoring of slums; development of the City Prosperity Index; development and refinement of methodologies for the SDGs, among others.
This technical guide aims to describe the urban observatory model and to provide the necessary guidance on how to set up and maintain an urban observatory by local and national governments, city leaders and various stakeholders involved in monitoring, reporting and making investment and policy decisions at the local and national urban levels. This is part of UN-Habitat’s efforts to provide the necessary technical support to national and city governments and meet their needs in terms of urban monitoring and data-driven decision-making processes.