Welcome to the OpenDataSoft Leadership Podcast Series, “Open Data Discussions”. Each month, Jason Hare, our Open Data Evangelist, features a different…
A “Tailor Made” Smart City Open Data Portal
OpenDataSoft is excited to announce that it has been recognized for its Smart City Open Data portal offering. In the recent edition of CIOReview focusing on the Smart City, OpenDataSoft was named among the “Top 20 Most Promising Smart City Solution Providers” of 2016.
This recognition, granted by a panel of CEOs, CIOs, VCs, analysts, as well as the CIOReview editorial board, is based on the criteria of a solution’s cost effectiveness, flexibility, and the value it adds to a city’s Smart City landscape.
Jeevan George, Managing Editor of CIOReview noted that “OpenDataSoft continued to break new ground within the past year, benefiting its customers. CIOReview is happy to showcase OpenDataSoft this year due to its continuing excellence in delivering top-notch technology driven solutions.”
CIOReview’s list comes at quite an exciting moment for OpenDataSoft and our customers’ Smart City projects. Beginning in December 2015 as part of a larger plan to redesign several major traffic circles, the City of Paris is undergoing an ambitious Smart City experiment in Place de la Nation. This project, taking place in one of the City’s busiest traffic circles, is in partnership with Cisco and Placemeter. The OpenDataSoft Smart City Platform will be at the very core of this project. Sensors will collect data on traffic, noise, and air quality; they will then send these data in real time onto the Paris Open Data Portal, powered by OpenDataSoft, making these data available to everyone.
The OpenDataSoft Smart City Open Data Portal
CIOReview focused on three main elements of OpenDataSoft’s Smart City Open Data Portal: the platform’s ability to process large-scale, real-time data from IoT objects, to transform these data into interactive visualizations like maps and charts, and its API-centered design.
These are key to a Smart City platform, as they all factor into how data of only the highest value can be reused by actors and individuals in the Smart City. First off, the ability for a platform to collect real-time data is critical within the world of connected objects and the IoT; sensors constantly generate information every second. These data are the most interesting and give the most valuable insights to the Smart City.
But how does this data then go from machine-friendly to human-friendly? This is where OpenDataSoft’s powerful visualizations come in; they help make sense of the data to humans, so that the information can actually tell us something. For example, they can provide solutions in the following scenario:
“The air quality is really poor today? Maybe I should take the metro rather than a bike today.“
Once the data have been processed and understood, how can they be communicated and reused? APIs provide a powerful means to plug these data into applications, either on mobile or the web, to connect these data and visualizations to users where they will go to seek it. The OpenDataSoft platform automatically generates RESTful APIs with each dataset that can even be easily customized by users.
Sounds great on paper, right? Let’s look at how the City of Paris is using all of these features.
Paris at the intersection of Open Data and the Smart City
Paris is currently redesigning several of its major intersections to make them more pedestrian friendly. Back in January, the City of Paris installed about fifty sensors in one of the city’s largest and busiest traffic circles, la Place de la Nation. They track the number of vehicles and pedestrians passing through, and measure the air quality and noise levels. The sensors will be in place for a trial period of one year.
The project, launched in partnership with Cisco, is focused on empowering citizens to help them make more responsible decisions surrounding their everyday activities. All of the data measured by the sensors will be made available in real-time in Open Data on the City of Paris’ Open Data portal for even further sharing and reuse. The information will thus be available from anywhere with an Internet connection and a web browser!
However, beyond the Open Data portal, passerby will be able to look at these data directly in the space itself. Touch screens will be installed at bus stations, displaying visualizations of the data, automatically updated as new information streams in; these will allow users to interact with the data to help them get a better understanding of collective impact in a public space. This is quite a remarkable application of Smart City practices!
With data on the noise levels from car horns, positioned next to live information about traffic conditions and air pollution made accessible right where they are being produced, the new, highly informed Smart Citizen might be more inclined to hop on the metro or another lower-impact forms of transportation, rather than jumping into a taxi. When these Smart City practices are applied across the city, individual impacts can end up being quite significant to help reap the benefits promised by the Smart City. It is here, at this very traffic intersection in Paris, that we can finally see the crossroads of Open Data and the promises of the Smart City.
The Future of Paris’ Smart City Ambitions
At the end of this year-long experiment, it will be interesting to look at the results; how many different reuses of the data were created? Was there a reduction in noise levels since the initial installation of the sensors? Can we look at other Open Data, such as bus ridership numbers or entrances into the Metro at Nation to see increases since the sensors were installed?
The real test will be how to scale such a project across the city. Once this takes place, we can expect to see, over the long term, much more significant changes, and along with those, improvements in our urban spaces.