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In a discussion published on the new version of the EIP-SCC website, Graham Colclough (UrbanDNA) makes an attempt to answer a critical question for the ‘smart city’ market and yet, one that is quite impossible to get an easy answer to: How much does an urban data platform cost?

For the full article, click here.

What matters for us in this article are the definitions of ‘smart city’ concepts as used and understood within the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), and in particular in its Action Cluster working on ‘Urban Platforms’.

 

Those definitions are being relayed in italics below and this article goes beyond them, to investigate the deeper costs (or societal challenges) that can be brought about by urban data platforms.

An ‘Urban Platform’ is …

… the implemented realisation of a loigcal architecture/design that brings together (we say “integrates”) data flows within and across city systems

… and exploits modern technologies (sensors, cloud services, mobile devices, analytics, social media etc)

… providing the building blocks that enable cities to rapidly shift from fragmented operations to include predictive effective operations, and novel ways of engaging and serving city stakeholders

… in order to transform, in a  way that is tangible and measurable, outcomes at local level (e.g. increase energy efficiency, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, create (digital) innovation ecosystems, efficient city operations for administrations and services).

Why does Europe need harmonised standards for smart cities? Read the full interview with Dita Charanzová, a Czech MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, published on euractiv.com.


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City Data

‘City Data’ is that which is held by any organisation – government, public sector, private sector or not-for-profit – which is providing a service or utility, or is occupying part of the city in a way that can be said to have a bearing on local populations and the functioning of that space.

This initial part of the definition brings the question of data ownership. Who owns the data collected in smart cities? What impact on citizens’ privacy? On this issue, the European Parliament published in September 2015 a study for the LIBE committee untitled ‘Big Data and Smart Devices and Their Impact on Privacy’.

It can be static, near-real time or in the future, real time, descriptive or operational.

Further, in the future, data will be to a greater extent generated by individual citizens and this too (with due consideration to privacy and a strong trust framework) can be considered city data.

 

What can cities do to protect privacy?
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While acknowledging that urban data platforms are engines for more efficient urban governance (in the area of energy and mobility especially), good governance implies the adoption of a clear data management scheme, in line with EU rules.

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new EU legal framework on data privacy and security which attempts to deal with these challenges, adopted in April 2016. A dedicated portal has been created to prepare all actors collecting, processing and storing data in Europe, and that of European citizens. Visit the GDPR portal at http://www.eugdpr.org/

Earlier this year, the Green Digital Charter (GuiDanCe project) organised a webinar on ‘Data management and citizens’ privacy in smart cities’ and open governance. The speakers were Daniel Sarasa (Zaragoza City Council) and Antonio Kung (EIP-SCC ‘Citizen Focus’ Action Cluster on the implementation of the GDPR).

. You can watch the recording at http://bit.ly/2omBDO1.

Access Edinburgh’s city profile by clicking here.

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As one of the world’s leading capital cities, ranked second for quality of life in 2017, Edinburgh is experimenting with a number of smart city approaches to improve city sustainability, while driving innovation.

Edinburgh is experimenting with smart waste sensors to better understand patterns of litter across the city. An initial project focused on on-street litter bins, and looked to improve the placement and number of bins, and improve routing efficiency. This would help reduce fuel consumption, as drivers stopped making unnecessary trips to bins that did not need emptying, as well as raising awareness of waste volumes produced in Edinburgh to provide useful data for strategic decision making about waste management in the city. Edinburgh is currently expanding this smart approach to investigate the potential benefits of upscaling to city scale, and potentially to other waste types.

Edinburgh is also currently investing in lighting upgrades, that will replace every lighting column in the city with an energy efficient LED over the next 3 years, as well as providing improvements such as controllable dimming. This infrastructure will also provide an Internet of Things network where additional devices such as traffic or air quality sensors to further improve the city’s data-led approach to sustainability and innovation.


On 30-31 May 2017, Edinburgh hosted the first GuiDanCe ‘workshadowing’ visit. Among other activities, participants from the cities of Oulu and Reykjavik discovered innovative projects developed by the University and Edinburgh Living Lab. Get more insights and pictures through our Storify! Click here.