Open smart data

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Martín Álvarez-Espinar, engineer in Computer Science, is the manager at the W3C Spanish Office. He has broad experience in Web standards development. Martín has worked as eGovernment consultant at CTIC since 2007, specialized in the Open Government field. He has participated in the development of over a dozen of Open Government Data initiatives in Europe, and he is part of various working groups at W3C and in the European Commission’s Joinup, for the standardization of technologies in the Open Data and PSI re-use field.

IODC 2016

A city that is considered smart should try to maximise the cooperation with individuals and companies that are part of it,  encouraging innovation in all the society and achieving more efficacy and efficiency in the governance of the territory. There are numerous possible ways for public-private collaboration that can be carried out, not only referring the reuse of information, but also in the previous phase of data gathering and opening.  

Why not involving the citizenship in the data gathering and including the individuals as active part into the processing and the obtaining of information chain needed to improve the management processes in the city? This data gathering could be manually (by specific applications or services) or automatically (based on devices that could be carried by people themselves).

There are more Internet-connected devices every day capable of recording and processing this data trickle – small data—: devices installed in the buildings that measure the characteristics of the environment and the metrological variables (for instance, using open hardware platforms); those part of accessories that can be dressed (bracelets, watches, rings, clothing with integrated devices, or any element that monitor the activity or vital signs of who are wearing it);  using devices integrated in smart phones (gyroscopes, GPS receivers, temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc.)

The timely data gathering by the citizenship could provide the public administrations with great amount of reliable and accurate information not only about the real situation of different zones of the territories, but also about the habits and behavior of the population. The analysis and automatic data processing, along with the information from the administration itself, would generate a tickle of data that, as time goes on, will be massive and will tend to what is known as big data, offering many more possibilities.

A basic example illustrating this idea about citizenship collaboration within efficient governance – in this occasion motivated by the generation of business – is in this case the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in the United States, and the Strava company, a social network based on an application for mobile devices that is used for about 10 million people worldwide. In 2013 this public agency paid about $ 20,000 for the license and data mining of a set of data with information about the activities of more than 17,700 residents and visitors. The main objective of this acquisition was a realistic analysis of the citizens’ habits in order to get an efficient improvement in urban road panning and the management of the transport in the region.

Thanks to this and many other examples we can value the great potential of aggregated open data with many others around us and that we generate each step we take, making the most of them to develop our society.