Value of urban data

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How Urban Data becomes a fuel for sustainable urban development - a new research project of Fraunhofer IAO and London School of Economics LSE


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"Data is the new fuel," said the former EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kunewa from Bulgaria in 2009. But in many municipalities the value of urban data is still underestimated. Yet the possibilities of using urban data are almost unlimited. Intelligent traffic guidance systems, for example, can use traffic data to control the traffic volume, thus contributing to a reduction in traffic jams and air pollution in the agglomeration areas. Besides numerous opportunities, there are also numerous challenges associated with intelligent data use. For example, the data collected in cities is not always public, but often sensitive personal information from citizens, that is under protection.


Despite the enormous potential, the current market for Urban Data is still in its development phase and so far there are hardly any general findings that enable municipalities to understand the full potential of urban data for a sustainable and smart development. "A recurring insight from numerous Smart City projects is that there is a lack of knowledge and models to define the value of urban data. There is a lack of targeted research and development to determine the circumstances under which urban data can contribute to a new asset class "data-enabled smart city projects" and how they should be managed", said Alanus von Radecki, Head of the Urban Governance Team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO).


For this reason, the Fraunhofer IAO, together with the London School of Economics (LSE), recently launched a research and development initiative on the "Value of Urban Data". The initiative was planned as a collaborative research project. Several partners finance the project together and have the opportunity to contribute with their own data, case studies and issues. This format has already proved its worth in the context of numerous innovation networks as it achieves the maximum benefit at minimal costs for all participants. A non-disclosure agreement, also known as NDA, is signed by all the parties to enable research, development and exchange of knowledge within a protected area.


The two-year joint research project consists of a total of six project phases, starting with the identification of valuable data sets as well as their utilization, and ending with a detailed report on the methodology, the data value model, best practices and specific scenarios. Participation in the project is open to interested parties of all kinds, from municipalities to private enterprises. Cities can gain perception of the potential of existing data and unlock new financing models. The project is also intended for financial and insurance service providers who want to expand their portfolio with investments into sustainable and innovative urban projects and to develop products that will meet the future needs of cities. In addition, all companies wishing to gain a better estimation of the value of their own data for cities and thus to open up corresponding monetarization paths can benefit from participation in the collaborative research project.

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