Smart cities: leveraging open external data

Smart cities around the world are embracing real time, publicly available data as they look to improve living standards for the growing urban population.

Key Takeaway

Following the lead of innovators like Dubai and Singapore, cities from Rio de Janeiro to Angers, France, are diving into smart city and open data initiatives in an effort to remain at the forefront as we enter what many consider to be the fourth industrial revolution. Public access to external data is paving the way for innovation, efficiencies and digital inclusion like never before.

Citizens leave their digital trace just about everywhere they go, both voluntarily and involuntarily...When cross-referenced with each user’s geographical location, data harnessed at this scale offers a means of describing, and responding to, the dynamics of the city in real time.

World Economic Forum Data Driven Cities Report

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas – and this number is expected to reach over 70% by 2050. As a result, cities are finding it harder to serve and support their residents. According to Nokia, demographic, environmental, financial and economic forces are inspiring governments to leverage data and technology to make their cities smarter, safer and more sustainable.

According to a report by Deloitte, cities can be defined as ‘smart’ when “investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources.”

Evaluating 22 cities, Nokia’s Smart City Playbook collates best practices from forward-thinking smart cities leading the way, providing municipal governments globally with resources to help them “create cities that expand the human possibilities of the connected world.”

Leading the effort in smart, safe and sustainable innovation are Dubai, Singapore, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco and Mexico City. These smart cities incorporate open data initiatives to encourage digital inclusion and provide access to game-changing external data insights upon which both the public and private sectors can continue to innovate.

In its Data Driven Cities report, The World Economic Forum emphasizes the role individuals have to play in the future of smart cities. “Public institutions should want citizens to get excited about urban innovation. Beyond the installation and control of hardware, if the right platforms can be developed, people can really be the ones to transform the cities they own.”

What goes into making a smart city? AI and data-driven:

Environmental sustainability

Digital inclusion

Efficient transport + infrastructure

Government accountability

Technology innovation + investment

Improved public health + safety

From Copenhagen’s cycling-friendly answer to sustainable and efficient transport, to Dubai’s bet on blockchain, to Rio de Janeiro’s public-facing crime forecasting platform, Boston’s efforts to hold government accountable with CityScore, and countless open data portals being made accessible to the public, municipalities in the world’s most forward-looking cities are embracing external, real time data to better serve their residents in the 21st century.

Want to know where smart cities are headed in the future? According to the team at Drayton by Schneider Electric, Marty McFly wasn’t too far off. Take a look at their interactive infographic to see what the world will look like over the next few decades.

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