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City data-sharing scales up

New initiatives around city data-sharing look way beyond open data.


Lots of cities are now using the data they have to gain more insight into city operations. Many have also opened their data to facilitate transparency and to enable and encourage innovators to create new services using the data.

Advanced cities are taking this a step further with platform-based initiatives, using real-time sensor data to facilitate an ‘app store’ approach.

Sharing between cities

News this week looks ahead to the next stage again for city data-sharing.

A new initiative from ATIS and Ignite is set to enable cities to share data with other cities.

The organisations are working on a data-exchange specification which will include a data-sharing framework, data formats and protocols, security and privacy requirements and common APIs.

“It’s our goal to help ease the transition to a smarter data-sharing society,” said Nick Maynard, chief strategy officer of US Ignite.


“It’s our goal to help ease the transition to a smarter data-sharing society."

The work also aims to help cities move towards participating in ‘data marketplaces’ which enlist the private sector and promote new business models for trading, owning and optionally monetising data.


In May, the City of Copenhagen’s Solutions Lab shared the findings and recommendations from its first two years operating the City Data Exchange (CDE) – an advanced marketplace for the exchange of data between public and private organisations. It allows third-party data to augment public sector data and data to be bought and sold.


A two-way street


While city data has underpinned many new products and services, data-sharing hasn’t always been reciprocal.


A report from Transport for London (TfL) and Deloitte found that open data is creating commercial opportunities for third-party developers. Over 80 TfL data feeds are available for developers through the free unified API. These are accessed by over 13,000 developers and more than 600 apps are powered specifically using TfL’s open data feeds.

Following this, the London Assembly raised an interesting question around the sharing of data, noting: “TfL should continue to make its data open for use by app developers, but seek to enter reciprocal agreements whereby data produced by apps powered by underlying TfL data is shared with TfL. This should be a requirement for existing apps using TfL data and new apps seeking to do so.”


The private sector has typically been reluctant to share data but this could be starting to change. This week, Ford Motor Company, Uber and Lyft agreed to share data through the new SharedStreets data platform. The initiative aims to make it easier for the private sector to work with cities around the world and leverage data to improve urban mobility.


Ford Motor Company, Uber and Lyft agreed to share data through the new SharedStreets data platform.


The public-private partnership, described as “groundbreaking”, is the result of a collaboration with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the Open Transport Partnership and Bloomberg Philanthropies.


SharedStreets says it will work with Ford to develop a universal data standard that can be used to show real-time curb space demand and availability. The partnership with Uber will focus on a global dataset of driving speeds to understand better where and when drivers are speeding. Lyft will join SharedStreets and Uber to produce a universal framework for sharing kerbside pick-up/drop-off counts.


Open up


As data-sharing (and hopefully the benefit for citizens) scales up, it’s more crucial than ever that cities speak up and open up about where it’s all heading – something which hasn’t happened widely enough to date.


We’re now seeing examples emerge from cities such as Barcelona, Manchester and London.


With a stream of media coverage around data’s misuse and fears around ‘surveillance cities’, cities will need to talk much more to citizens about data and how it will be used.


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