City data-sharing is the way to drive innovations for all

The collection and utilisation of data forms an integral component of modern-day city management.

Data is being gathered all the time. Everywhere around us, there are cameras and sensors recording the daily life of a city population. A variety of obstacles face local authorities tasked with running a city efficiently; from traffic congestion to housing crises.

As population centres continue to expand, ensuring a successful response is increasingly reliant on a city becoming ‘smarter’ – a transition towards digital innovations and developments that improve the services that underpin city management; and as a result, improve the lives of its citizens.

Though unique in many ways, most cities are tasked with similar problems; whether it’s air pollution and waste management, or falling high street footfall figures. They’re also all publicly gathering data on the day-to-day happenings within their locales. By sharing this data with private companies and developers on a secure, open platform, cities create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation, ultimately to the benefit of the city themselves.

Across the UK, this opening up of city data records is providing developers with an insight into how cities truly work, and where they can be improved.

Driving City data sharing

In London last year, the capital launched the City DataStore. A platform that encourages the co-sharing of the cities data records, allowing others to build new and improved technologies for the London population; from new apps and software to enhanced sensors and connectivity systems.

An assortment of data streams, from jobs and crime figures to air pollution levels has been made accessible to the private sector. The success of London’s data sharing schemes has already paid dividends in other parts of the capital. Transport for London (TfL), the government body responsible for keeping the city moving opened its data feeds to the private sector some years ago; and now over 600 publicly available apps powered by TfL’s unified API.

City-wide data sharing isn’t limited to London either. In Bristol, the city council and the University of Bristol co-run the Bristol Is Open sharing platform, built on the back of an open high-speed network.

Over in Manchester, the northern city has recently poured £16m into a smart city IoT investment aimed at demonstrating how data sharing and IoT technology will shape the city in the future. Staying in the north of England, Leeds’ Data Mill North brings together various data feeds from across the city, allowing private and educational sectors access for the benefit of the city’s populace.

The private sector is opening up to more collaborative data projects too. Traditionally more closed off than more publicly-backed bodies, private companies are now beginning to see, and reap, the benefits of co-sharing their data feed with former business rivals.

Sharing our streets

Over in the US, ridesharing services offered by Uber, Lyft and Ford Motor Company have recently created SharedStreets. A three-way split data platform, SharedStreets allows the taxi for hire trio to pool their data feeds in an effort to improve their services and the ridesharing experience as a whole.

Steadily, the UK’s city management bodies are embracing the idea of sharing data and opening up safe feeds to private companies for the benefit of their citizens. Data-sharing societies could be poised to reap the benefits of collaboration, emerging as the frontrunners in the transition to smart city modernity.


Photos: Shutterstock 

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