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Copenhagen shares takeaways from its City Data Exchange

Copenhagen has one of the most advanced data-sharing programmes in the world. It has released a report of findings from its City Data Exchange on how to improve data infrastructure in Denmark and beyond.


The city of Copenhagen’s Copenhagen Solutions Lab has shared the findings from its first two years operating the City Data Exchange (CDE) – an advanced marketplace for the exchange of data between public and private organisations.

The City Data Exchange is a collaborative project between the Municipality of Copenhagen, the Capital Region of Denmark and Hitachi (which provides the technical platform).

While many cities have opened their data, few have marketplaces where third-party data can augment public sector data and where data can be bought and sold.

The report notes: “The CDE has closed a gap in regional data infrastructure. Both public-and private sector organisations have used the CDE to gain insights into data use cases, new external data sources, GDPR issues, and to explore the value of their data. Before the CDE was launched, there were only a few options available to purchase or sell data.”

Data-sharing challenges

The City and the Region of Copenhagen are using the insights from the CDE project to improve their internal activities and to shape new policies. The lessons so far can also provide insights into a wider national, and potentially global, infrastructure for effective data sharing.

The report states: “Many companies, and organisations have been part of the CDE journey, of which some are even selling data to each other today. There is a need to create a larger data-sharing community and to work on the use cases.”

The CDE team has pinpointed key challenges such as an immature data market, fragmented data landscape, reluctance to share data due to concerns about privacy and competitor access, and a data skills gap.


Based on the insights from approximately 1,000 people that have interacted with the CDE, the report’s recommendations are:

1. Establish solid use cases

The report notes that several CDE client prospects asked for examples of good use cases that showed how traditional companies benefit from the sale or use of data, but there are only limited examples available.

“This is one of the main reasons behind the reluctance to invest significant resources in making data available for purchase or purchasing data made available by other parties. From both a buyer and seller perspective, the lack of use cases is a barrier,” the report notes.

The report recommends that use cases need to be based on either a specific business opportunity, or a challenge. They should include both the consumer and supplier perspective and be clear on avoiding risks and pitfalls.

2. Create a regional and/or national data community

The report finds that although there are still a lot of unanswered questions, there is also a willingness to discuss opportunities for data exchange across companies and organisations.

As such, it identifies a need for a common platform to facilitate discussions, as well as to create use cases and tools to show the value of exchanging data.

This would involve setting up a data-sharing community where stakeholders can meet and explore opportunities, linking to other activities and data sources both national and international, and identifying data demand patterns across the public and private sectors.

“Both in Denmark and internationally, organisations are still trying to find the winning formula that will make data exchange between multiple stakeholders attractive and easy," the report says.

3. Establish common standards for data sharing

While there is a good deal of work being done to find common standards for data sharing, these standards have not yet been implemented and many of the issues faced by the CDE project involved the format of different datasets, as the requirements often differ across sectors and organisations.

The report recommends starting with specific use cases and one sector to investigate what standards are needed at a very basic level. Tools will be required to handle and visualise data when there are multiple sources, it notes. Further, guidelines are required for data sharing, including IT security and privacy issues.

Future trends

The CDE team say they expect community platforms and ‘data collaboratives’ (where different data owners – public, private, IoT solutions – are gathered in one place) to play a growing and vital role in the future.


“These collaboratives will serve to co-create use cases with a wider community, and to identify which data is suited to solve a given problem,” they say.

Data broker functions will also be required, the report finds, as the market matures and more companies look for guidance on both where to find data and who may be interested in purchasing their data.

Download the report, City Data Exchange: Lessons learned from a public/private data collaboration.

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