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PwC pinpoints seven layers of good data governance for smart cities

Consulting firm PwC says these layers of data governance need to be in place if public and private sector organisations are to turn data into both financial and quality of life benefits.

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PwC's model aims to ensure cities data initiatives secure citizen buy-in
PwC's model aims to ensure cities data initiatives secure citizen buy-in

Global consulting firm PwC has identified seven layers of data governance that need to be in place if public and private sector organisations are to turn data into benefits – both financial and quality of life ones – while ensuring public buy-in.

 

It contends that the layers help to build a foundation for secure, actionable data that is ready for cities and businesses to use for new business models and services.

 

The foundation for smart city success: Seven layers of data governance and management report is based on work PwC has done with smart cities all over the world as well as companies leading in areas such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Compliance Privacy Act (CCPA) compliance and cyber-security and privacy.

 

It also benefits from the insight of co-author Michelle Holland, PwC’s director, consulting and deals Toronto, and former chief advocate for the innovation economy, City of Toronto, who gained valuable experience in this area during the planning stage of the controversial Waterfront Toronto smart city development.

 

The seven layers

 

The foundational layers are categories, consent, collection, anonymisation, storage, access and monetisation. The model begins with preparing for the data categories of the future. It then creates tools and processes for informed consent, for secure and efficient collection, anonymisation, and storage, and for secure and tiered access. Finally, it offers a platform for “rapid and innovative” monetisation.

 

PwC highlights a number of case studies in the report, including India’s DataSmart Cities policy framework, which has been developed by the federal government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, with the assistance of city officials, academics and private sector leaders, Denmark’s Regional Data Hub, in which Copenhagen is working with 19 other cities across the country, and the Dubai Pulse open platform which supports its broader smart city initiatives.

 

It also explores the resistance that some cities have met with due to a failure to effectively plan for data governance and the management challenges.

 

What we hope is that recent controversies open the minds of the authorities about the importance of scaling up activities to address issues around privacy and security and that these in turn help unleash a more flourishing use of data to improve people’s urban experience,”said Gary Sharkey, global sustainability and smart cities, PwC, and one of the co-authors of the report.

 

What we hope is that recent controversies open the minds of the authorities about the importance of scaling up activities to address issues around privacy and security.

 

He added: “And as cities work their way up the model, it will start to enable more individual departments to progress data initiatives on their own.”

 

As the report highlights, though, there may be technical challenges ahead for some cities. PwC states that to meet the demands of smart city data governance and management, many public and private entities will have to rebuild their technology architecture: “Narrowband wireless networks, for example, often do not offer sufficient bandwidth, at an acceptable cost, to support the massive data gathering, distribution, and encryption that smart city data management demands.”

 

And it warns that if “flawed” data governance and management cripples smart city initiatives, cities can face declining services and a falling revenue base, while residents and businesses alike “flee” for cities with a better quality of life and a greater ease of doing business: “Companies whose smart infrastructure and service offerings contain weak data governance can face lawsuits and controversies over their current projects, and increasingly be out of the running for future ones.”

 

The report concludes that smart cities offer a bright future for residents, businesses and government leaders alike and to play a leading role in that future, city governments and commercial smart city providers should work quickly to build its foundation, based on seven layers of best practices.

 

To download the report, go to The foundation of smart city success

 

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