Open data is a philosophy that supports the availability of certain types of data to the entire world. This practice is a key factor for the sustainable development so necessary today and for the creation of smart cities. There are more and more cities and institutions, such as the UNO itself, that use open data to get closer to citizens, make their cities more efficient and reduce the footprint left in the environment.
Openness and transparency are two values that are very much in vogue right now, that is why open data is the way to go in the sustainable development of cities and smart cities, the next step in the innovation of the cities of the future.
Open data in governments have many benefits. In addition to improving public participation and responsibility, opening these information channels allows other companies to develop new applications and services in favor of the citizen. At the end, this results in greater technological innovation and economic growth.
The United Nation Organization (UNO) understands the importance of open data, as shown in the document of the Sustainable Development Goals, and sees them as one more tool to create a better world.
The European Commission has created two websites to enhance this aspect. The first offers open data from all institutions, agencies and other bodies; and the second has data from local, regional and national public institutions from different territories of the European Union.
Thanks to the open data offered by these portals, many useful applications have been developed for the citizen, such as a map of the bus network (matatus) and stops in Kenya, since previously its inhabitants did not even know where to wait. Also a map of the London subway service or a Sevilla map with the availability of bicycles Services, both in real time.
The Spanish Government itself is aware of the importance of open data for a sustainable and efficient development, as this reports show. It recognizes that data is a “very valuable asset and an essential resource for almost any activity in our society.”
Open data and the Internet of things
The open data used for the sustainable development of cities are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is in full expansion, which leads to greater investment in innovation and the creation of new sensors and connection methods that facilitate data collection.
All this information collected requires a correct processing to perform actions based on their result. For this, Geographica has developed together with Telefonica “Urbo“, a dashboard for Smart City designed to visualize data in a clear and simple way of and its subsequent analysis and decision making.
A good monitoring by the municipalities of these data allows a better service to the citizen and move towards sustainable development and greater care of the environment.
Open data allows you to know where people are and what they need. If there are many people in an area, public transport services may have to be increased or police crews reinforced or the sweepers called to clean up afterwards.
Cases of good use of open data for sustainable development
In New York an experiment was carried out with the city’s streetlights as information centers for its citizens and thus demonstrates the possibilities of open data in a smart city. The lamps had a screen, a speaker and a microphone to interact with whoever approaches them.
The smart lamp network allowed knowing the availability of parking or access to a database of shops. They are even capable of identifying crimes, such as shooting, and alert emergency services before anyone else. In addition to these benefits, LED technology helped them save many thousands of dollars a year.
In South Korea they had problems with waste management and a very low percentage of recycling. To solve it, they decided to install cubes that monitored their capacity. Thus, the cleaning services knew when they had to go to empty them, so the garbage did not exceed the level of filling and ended up on the floor.
In Singapore, Carto collaborated with the Singapore Land Authority to create an application with one public part with an educational aspect and another private part for the management of spatial information. The SLA had a lot of information that it could not take advantage of because they did not have a usable visualization tool for different departments.
The advantage of data can not only be used to improve the lives of citizens, but also to avoid catastrophes, such as floods in Calgary, Canada. There they had problems in the rainy season and thaw, when the water reserves were too full without been able to let it flow optimally. The main problem was to predict when these peaks of water activity would occur.
To solve this, they installed a series of sensors that broadcast real-time data from the water distribution network and all its reservoirs. This allowed them to regulate the water flow and thus prevent large floods. It was not only useful for those in charge of the management, but also for the emergency services or the citizens, to put the necessary measures if a flood occurs in the river.
The philosophy of open data entails to an endless advantage in many areas and is one of the ways to move towards sustainable development. Its applications in the transportation, energy or waste system, among many others, help to save money and make a more efficient use of the scarce resources we have.
In addition, open data is one of the main bases of the development of smart cities to create applications and services that improve day to day and make certain tasks easier. Thus, users become a part of the development and their active role allows creating new projects and improving the ones that are already in operation.