Home Digital City How Open Data can Help Cities be Smarter – exclusive interview

How Open Data can Help Cities be Smarter – exclusive interview

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Since the launch of Cities Digest back in January of this year we have written a number of different articles on the use of data by cities, a lot of that has focussed on how cities can use the data that they gather in a smarter way. Today we take a deeper look at open data. So, what is Open Data?

Open data is the sharing of data that is generated (in this case by cities) with the general public. The data can then be used by third parties to design new apps and services that the city does not have the expertise, time and budget to produce. It also allows for the 2 way sharing of data between public and private sector organisations that would have never historically shared data. 

In this interview I had the pleasure of speaking to Fanny Goldschmidt from OpenDataSoft. Fanny is a business developer for OpenDataSoft and she will be speaking at Nordic Smart Cities in Stockholm on 24-25 October.

Good to speak to you today, Fanny. Firstly can you give me a bit of background on OpenDataSoft, who is OpenDataSoft and what solutions do you provide?

OpenDataSoft helps organisations launch their open data portals in a quick and cost-effective way. With OpenDataSoft’s platform customers are able to collect data from multiple sources, break data silos, share interactive data visualisations, foster applicative development through APIs and collaborate with other key stakeholders. OpenDataSoft designed an open data platform for business users who might not have any technical background. Thanks to the intuitive user interface, government employees from all divisions are able to collect, process and publish data with a few mouse clicks. In addition, the upload of datasets can be fully automatized.

Fully accessible from a web browser, use of the OpenDataSoft platform can be mastered in a few short hours:

  • Business managers can transform and publish datasets.
  • Platform users can explore and visualize data in maps & graphs.
  • Developers can re-use data thanks to simple and powerful APIs.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for cities when opening up their data?

The biggest challenge for cities is convincing people that opening up their data is safe and will have positive outcome. Even in today’s world many do not see the point and importance of open data. This the first challenge cities face and we have great examples among our own clients to prove how opening up data can improve control of public spending, public transportation quality, traffic, carbon footprint and citizen engagement.

I recently heard about your case study with City of Lille and Waze, can you give me a bit more detail about that project?

Indeed, we announced a data-sharing partnership with Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app. This partnership will make it easier for cities and other local governments to launch smart transportation initiatives.

Local governments already using the OpenDataSoft platform can now quickly and seamlessly collect, harmonise and share data through the Waze Connected Citizens Program, a free, two-way data share of publicly available traffic information. The European Metropolis of Lille will be the first local government to take advantage of this unprecedented data sharing initiative for the benefit of its 1.2 million inhabitants via the OpenDataSoft platform.

How has this benefitted both parties?

The Waze Connected Citizens Program gives local governments a new look at real-time road activity. The program provides the opportunity to harness real-time driver insights to improve congestion and make better informed urban planning decisions. Established as a two-way data share, Waze partners with over 250 local governments around the world to provide real-time, anonymous, Waze-generated incident and traffic congestion information directly from the source: drivers themselves. In exchange, local governments provide real-time government-reported construction, crash and road closure data to Waze via the OpenDataSoft platform. Together, these data sets will offer one of the most succinct, thorough overviews of current road conditions today.

You were also part of the redevelopment plan for Place de la Nation in Paris, can you tell me a more about that?

In opening all of the measures generated by sensors installed in the Traffic Square Place de la Nation in Paris, the city is offering numerous opportunities to study the occupation of urban space and on the relationship between traffic, noise and air pollution. Urban planners and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can use the data, which changes in real-time, to think of how to redesign the traffic circle and develop an applicable model at other points within the city to significantly improve the quality of life for the citizens.

Very interesting, thank you for your time today Fanny, I am looking forward to hearing more about the successful open data projects at Nordic Smart Cities 2017. Open data really does offer governments and city administrations the opportunity for 2 way data exchange between organisations that would historically not have had the confidence or need to share. I feel that we are only just at the beginning of realising the possibilities for successful open data projects in cities and municipalities.

For more information about OpenDataSoft: www.opendatasoft.com