Smart cities powered by data part 2: Smart services


In the next thirty years, approximately 68% of the world population will be living in cities, according to the UN. To accommodate the rapidly-expanding urban population, cities need to act quickly to anticipate and overcome considerable challenges in many areas, including health and safety, environment, energy, water, electric utility, waste management, transportation and mobility, and service delivery.

To meet the ever-growing needs of citizens, many have turned to the concept of a “smart city” as the ultimate solution to this immense question. But what exactly is a smart city? Some might link it to IoT (Internet of Things) and connected devices, while others might imagine intelligent infrastructure on the city streets. Regardless of the nature of the projects, a smart city is first and foremost a connected city, powered by data sharing among various stakeholders, city service providers, government administrators, and citizens.

Whether the goal is to enable an intelligent product or service, to achieve transparency with governance and performance, or to enhance territorial attractiveness, it is imperative to have a secure platform to collect reliable data and share them among stakeholders and the community.

What can open data do for the future of smart cities? In this second piece of the series: Smart cities powered by data, Opendatasoft breaks down the question for smart services and illustrates the role of data with tangible, real-life examples.

Transportation and mobility

City life is often plagued by traffic congestion, and with that comes extended commute time, air pollution, noise pollution, and even traffic accidents. With data and digitalisation, one of the first things that global metropoles are turning to improve is transportation and mobility. By collecting traffic data, counting pedestrian and vehicles, updating real-time public transit data, and monitoring occupancy rates in parking lots, city governments and mobility operators can do a lot with a shared, open data portal to improve urban traffic. In addition, open data helps cities share information and maps that can enhance people’s mobility experiences.

As early as 2011, New York City has installed sensors around 110 city blocks in Manhattan with the award-winning “Midtown in Motion” project. The city of Paris is working with Cisco to collect data on traffic, air quality and noise pollution. Mexico City, as the world’s 8th most populated metropolis, uses low-cost tactical tools to make urban streets safer for pedestrians. Bristol recently published its 6 million records of traffic data, which increases by the thousands daily.

Traffic data not only benefits large metropolitan cities, but also smaller-sized cities. The French city of Rennes with its 200,000 inhabitants publishes real-time bus location data on its public transportation open data portal. Chattanooga, Tennessee, collects traffic data and runs simulations on its “digital twin” to test out new ways to improve public safety. Louisville, Kentucky, partnered with Waze to take advantage of the massive user-generated traffic data - a perfect example of a synergetic public-private partnership.

In addition to traffic management, cities are enhancing mobility experiences in innovative ways. The Australian city council Eurobodalla is collecting bridge traffic data to inform future bridge designs. Global parking operator Indigo uses mobility data to help local governments manage on-street parking. In the US, Jersey City and the town of Cary publish their bike-related data to inform the biker community. 26 other bike maps are available to explore on the Data Network - a particularly useful tool to explore to plan a Covid-friendly outing. The French railway operator SNCF uses its open data portal to break down internal silos and provide its engineers with a geographic visualization tool. The Belgian railway operator Infrabel opened its open data portal to a broad spectrum of audience and held hackathons focusing on punctuality data. From small city councils to mobility service providers, having a dedicated platform to collect and share data will lead to innovative projects and data reuses, bettering citizens’ everyday experiences.

Energy and electric utility

An intelligent and efficient energy management system is crucial for smart cities who have to adapt to the ever-expanding urban population. This comes into play in various scenarios: smart on-street lighting, smart homes, workplace consumption, public facility energy management, smart grid, etc. The common thread that can connect and support these diverse functions is open data: many global energy players have taken up the data solution to facilitate their energy management systems.

EDF (Électricité de France) is the world’s third largest electric utility company, with business representations worldwide. Since 2015, EDF has collaborated with Opendatasoft to create their data portal both for external publishing and internal sharing. With a reliable data portal, EDF has optimised electric vehicle charging by encouraging charging at peak solar power production times and reducing CO2 emissions - just one innovative example of what you can do with data.

Other data initiatives can apply in smart grid management and on-street lighting operations. Having a data sharing portal has helped natural gas company GRDF with greater control over the concessions and enabled Spanish regional administration Junta of Castile and Leon to achieve better transparency via its energy datahub. From small cities to large energy providers, every organization can benefit from open data to adapt and innovate in the energy transition, an inevitable step towards the future of smart cities.

Smart water and waste management

Water pipelines are the lifeblood of a city, but they are less talked about in public policy. Many cities are facing aging water networks and increasing pressure to deliver water to the ever-expanding urban population. For cities and water operators, one of the easiest ways to improve their service delivery is through intelligent monitoring and open data.

Smart city water management does more than detecting leaks and cutting wastage. Check out the example of the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their newly-installed smart meters no long require city staff to go to residents and take meter readings. The instantaneous collection of water usage data also informs citizens when there is a spike in usage, making it easy to save water at home. With IoT enabled sensors to collect real-time data, smart water management systems can save water both at home and at city level.

Waste management is also an increasing challenge for cities. A lot of them are putting smart solutions in practice. Data-fueled Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems can make waste management more time, cost, and energy efficient while also contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About the author

Opendatasoft was designed to give people access to business-ready data when they need it. Organisations of every size — from new startups to public companies — use the Opendatasoft data sharing solution to access, reuse, and share data that grows business. By making innovative and intuitive data sharing solutions, Opendatasoft empowers people to collaborate around data.

This article was originally published by Opendatasoft. Access the original here.

Smart cities powered by data part 2: Smart services
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2018, Sean Foley via Unsplash

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