New mobility services, building on operational technology and data, are starting to address problems related to peak hour travel demand, while also offering the potential to make cities more livable and successful. Delivering the benefits of these services to a wide range of actors requires multiple data streams from multiple data sources and technologies. This requires an ecosystem approach, in which commercial, organizational, social and technical components are aligned.
Cities, government, industry and citizens need to consider four aspects:
1. City government has an important role to kickstart new services by releasing as much data as possible, both static and real time data.
2. Cities and transport operators should consider how projects and services can be scaled up across districts and stakeholders by considering business models, standards and architectures.
3. Cities need to work with businesses and citizens to create the ecosystem around data.
4. Political leaders need to engage with the debate around data and transport services to ensure that the wider implications of the new ecosystem are managed correctly.
Make Data Available To Those Who Can Generate Value
Transport data can come from many sources: public, private and crowd-sourced from travelers. City government has an important role to kick-start activity in their cities. Three essential steps are:
1. Release data: Cities should adopt the mantra ‘done is better than perfect’ and release data, in any format, in a simple datastore. The original London datastore cost £15,000. Cities should then expect to iterate and work with users to make it better. In particular, city actors should engage directly with software developers (or civic hackers) to find out what data they need, uncover problems and build demand for datasets. This demand can be used as a lever to encourage other departments or transport operators to release data too.
2. Reflect city objectives in pricing models for data: To date, more than 1 million open datasets have been made available by governments worldwide. Static data is generally fairly easy to make available at no cost since it is usually held by government for its own purposes. However, real time data may have a cost associated with it, particularly if held by private transport operators. Cities should consider options for value-added services, but recognize that business models are nascent and the private sector may be more experienced and effective.
3. Consider how transport and urban planners could use data analytics: City governments should convene interested parties from different departments to explore city challenges and the ways in which data could assist. Furthermore, cities should collaborate with citizens and private businesses to source missing data, and consider how investment in additional operational technologies (e.g. smart parking projects) could yield useful data.
Think About How To Scale New Innovations
Useful data will come from many public and private sources, and from multiple projects run by cities and their partners. Cities should think about how data can be brought together to produce new services and drive operational efficiency across the city. This will require coordination across technical, organizational and commercial axes.
In the UK’s Future Cities Demonstrator Programme, the three infrastructure types most frequently proposed by cities as essential to their future cities programme were:
Sensors; Wi-Fi networks; and Smart card/NFC payment systems.
8 of the 30 cities involved in the programme prioritized data collection from citizens and organisations via GPS or satellite facilities, and 6 of them proposed to invest in 4G broadband services.
Understanding the various options for intelligent infrastructure, identifying appropriate applications and specifying infrastructure components are essential for smarter city governments. Where external service providers and infrastructure operators are procured by government, contracts should outline the need for digital infrastructure and the requirement for operators to supply the output data to government.
Through an integrated approach, cities would be able to support private businesses to scale up individual projects from the project level to the city and beyond, to drive incremental growth in the value of project investments and to allow public and private sector innovations to ‘plug and play’ as part of an integrated ecosystem.
City governments can establish the structure that brings all of these projects together in an integrated way. This will require coordination of different actors and assignment of specific roles and responsibilities, such as data sharing across mobility services, interoperability of assets and collaborative service management.
Scaling projects from individual applications to city level could be conceived as three levels:
• Project level, which limits the collaboration and system integration to local applications, and restricts the opportunities for wider value creation.
• Functional level, which achieves the collaboration and system integration across multiple projects within one or more verticals (e.g. transport and energy) to increase opportunities for maximizing economic and functional value; and
• Positive Externalities, which achieves the collaboration and systems integration across multiple projects within one or more verticals (e.g. transport and health) as well as within shared infrastructures to maximise economic and functional value across industries.
New commercial models are required to bring together the private and public sectors to engage in data sharing. Compelling business cases are needed that articulate the value of data-sharing to public, private and non-profit stakeholders. This is no easy task. Large IT vendors have been investing in the smart city market for several years, recognising the value of implementing and operating city data platforms alongside smart grid networks. However, there has been a slower-than hoped for adoption of smart city technologies and the private-public partnerships that have emerged to deliver data-sharing platforms have predominantly been limited to pilot projects.
Improve Leadership Of The Digital Ecosystem
Implementing smart city solutions means that city government is no longer the top down driver of development in the city, but is one actor in an ecosystem. As we have seen, many successful citizen facing smart mobility solutions are developed by startups and small companies, using open data from city government. Cities need to develop smart city strategies that represent the needs and capabilities of a variety of city stakeholders, including community groups, the private sector and universities.
Development and implementation of effective smart city governance relies on clear leadership from government. Leadership requires a sophisticated understanding about the value of digital infrastructure, the appropriate technical specifications, and the principles of holistic system design. Leading cities in this field are already appointing Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers to own and coordinate the city’s response across all sectors, to forge partnerships and to enable government to be responsive to technological change on a project, sector or city scale.