Urban Ingenuity Series: Big Data
By John Rossant, Founder and Chairman of the New Cities Foundation July 31, 2013 04:41 PM
With growing urban centers globally comes a considerable amount of data related to citizen's behaviors, municipalities' operations or environmental evolutions. Through advanced technologies, ingenuity and increasing analytical capabilities, what is now commonly called Big Data is about to revolutionize cities' development and citizen's interactions with public services and authorities.
But to reap the benefits of this new and extremely valuable resource that is Big Data we must foster cross-sector partnerships and integrate innovations into the infrastructure, policy and long-term strategy of cities.
It is no coincidence that President Obama signed an Open Data Executive Order in May 2013, granting access to newly-generated government data to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers, and others. The opportunities to generate a vast array of new products, services, jobs and innovations are tremendous. And it will be no surprise to see innovators leveraging this kind of Big Data, recognized by the Citi/FT Ingenuity Awards.
Several cities and companies started leveraging the data generated by daily transactions, actions or behaviors. For example, through IBM's Smarter Cities program, the company is leveraging Big Data to create solutions like fitting buildings with smart sensors and control systems that can measure, sense and see the condition of practically everything in them in real-time. Smarter buildings lower maintenance and energy costs, and improve reliability and sustainability.
Similarly, Transit Time NYC, an interactive map developed by WNYC, lets New Yorkers click a spot in any of the city's five boroughs for an estimate of subway or train travel times. To create it, WNYC broke the city into 2,930 hexagons, then pulled data from open source itinerary platform OpenTripPlanner and combined it with the MTA's publicly downloadable subway schedule.
At New Cities Foundation, we strongly believe that such innovations must increase and will increase as we nurture talent and young generations. This is why we proudly support the Citi/FT Ingenuity Awards which aims at recognizing urban solutions that can be replicated by others. We joined as a partner of the FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards: Urban Ideas in Action--a global program sponsored by Citi, developed to recognize leaders, teams, organizations and community groups who have developed innovative solutions to urban challenges.
We also understand that the use of Big Data must be done responsibly. While Big Data plays a key role in advancing solutions for the future, it is important to be mindful of individuals' privacy. New Cities Foundation and Citi take protecting personal data very seriously and respect the privacy of our website visitors by not sharing any personal information with third parties.
Leveraging the power of Big Data is not the only solution to some of the most pressing urban challenges, whether mobility, housing and social inclusion, but it is certainly one that is going to have an enormous impact on the types of solutions we can implement in cities. Leveraged appropriately and collaboratively, it will be a game changer for cities, businesses and citizens around the world.