The Informal Settlement project is a collaboration between the Santa Fe Institute’s Cities & Urbanization team and Slum/Shack Dwellers International to create a new gold standard for community data collection and analysis in poor neighborhoods ("slums"). The data gathering, aggregation, and comparison efforts aim to inform urban planning and facilitate a scientific understanding of human development in cities.

We have three primary goals: 1) develop new tools and improve existing methodologies so as to empower slum dwellers to collect data about their communities and engage in a data-driven dialogue with local governments, non-governmental organizations, and international aid agencies; 2) use the data collected by communities to generate new scientific insights of neighborhood structure and human development; and 3) create a global, open knowledge platform for anyone, anywhere to collect and share data about their neighborhoods. It is hoped that the combination of community involvement and true scientific insights can ultimately inform the design of more effective policies for the betterment of neighborhoods and the promotion of human development.