Focus Areas: An issue that has begun to define studies of Indian economy and society is the massive proportion of employment in the informal sector. Disagreements over methods notwithstanding, all studies show this as the major portion of the Indian economy. The main focus of our research is the urban informal sector. We focus on the workers in this sector, the significance of their identities and social position, the conditions and constraints under which they work and live in the city, and the ways in which they navigate urban space under precarious circumstances. The scarcity of reliable data on this sector compels us to use a mix of different perspectives and methods.
Tools and Training: City governments, businesses, NGOs, and local communities themselves, all produce large amounts of data but this data is either not spatialized, or is inaccessible to the public. We use mapping as a key research tool and ensure that our outputs are open to all. We have mapped bus routes, share-auto routes, lakes, slums, waste processing centres, dustbins and other infrastructural aspects of Hyderabad. We conduct frequent workshops and courses to teach the techniques and ethics of mapping. In all our maps, visualizations and writings, we use data to tell stories that can help bring communities together and solve complex problems.
Solutions and Services: Cities are complex. Analyzing urban data, and solving urban problems, often requires a deeper understanding of the ground realities of particular places or communities. While we work with quantitative survey data, we seek to arrive at a deeper understanding of issues through interviews and field observations. One of the greatest gaps in the ways in which cities are planned is the absence of such insights from the grassroots. We attempt to fill that gap. We share our insights through a number of services such as consultancy, workshops, online course material, academic papers and participatory events.