Urban Data Platform



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    Is a service-centric platform model the Next Big Thing for smart cities?

    Back in 2013, the old Spanish port city of Santander was featured in news reports as a smart city pioneer – a living lab with thousands of sensors deployed around the town of 180,000 to alert residents to traffic jams, help workers optimize city systems and keep tourists happily occupied.

    Officials from around the world flocked to Santander to observe its grand experiment.

    Since then, of course, cities large and small have followed the lead of early connectivity proponents like Santander, Barcelona, Amsterdam and London. As a result, we've:

    • Experienced the evolution of the Internet of Things and the data tsunami it spawned  
    • Watched the Open Data movement gather steam and the proliferation of smartphone apps that followed
    • Seen the concept of integrated infrastructure catch on as cities deployed cross-cutting digital technologies
    • Marveled at the growth and creativity in the new sharing economy

    There's no doubt that all of that, together with advanced analytics, have dramatically changed how local governments operate and how citizen services are delivered:

    • Smart traffic lights, smart transit systems and smart roads are inter-connected to improve commutes and alert smartphone users to potential delays
    • Smart street lighting systems offer greater citizen safety through ‘push-to-talk’ alert buttons and the ability to increase lighting intensity when needed 
    • Data-sharing platforms enable social workers to pool data from a variety of agencies to help monitor care of the elderly and identify at-risk children

    All of which begs the question, what's next? What does the next generation of Smart Cities look like?

    A platform model
    The smart city lexicon is indeed changing. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles promise to alter the status quo.

    Bas Boorsma, Internet of Everything lead for Cisco in Northern Europe and author of "A New Digital Deal," suggests the smart cities proposition is moving from an asset-centric approach to one that is service-centric.

    We're seeing it already with mobility in cities. And in the business/consumer space, Everything as a Service (XaaS) or servitisation (referring to selling the function not the product) is increasingly common, from lighting performance to printer cartridges.

    Boorsma admits there are many unknowns in a Cities as a Service model. For example: "Do we opt for private sector to own and manage top to bottom as in the old telco and cable company model, or do we stress the importance of keeping strategic assets within the public realm?" And "how do we – government, industry, society at large – prepare for the introduction of platform into our smart city thinking?"

    Work in progress
    Fortunately, those answers are being addressed in the Market Place, where our Integrated Infrastructures Action Cluster is focused on developing open urban platforms and data. It has growing market support. A letter of intent has been signed by more than three dozen cities to date, plus city associations that bring the represented number to more than 100 cities in total. Additionally, nearly 100 industry players have signed the Memorandum of Understanding to support this important initiative. The Urban Platform initiative has already delivered guidance that can help accelerate cities through pre-procurement stages essential to smart city progress.

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Urban Data Platform

Urban Data Platform
Our Ambition

Main Goal: To speed the adoption, at scale, of common open urban data platforms, and ensure that 300 million European citizens are served by cities with competent urban data platforms, by 2025.               


City data holds vast untapped value. And it is growing exponentially! It can help streamline transport systems; reduce energy consumption and support use of local low-carbon energy; and deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes. However very few cities have managed to access these benefits. An EIP survey revealed three reasons why: (i) challenges in working across the city silos (ii) justifying the investment (iii) capability gaps.

Much has already been done

Three working groups are established (illustration) that are progressively integrating what will become a comprehensive toolkit to help achieve the goal. 

Delivery to date includes:

(i)  For Cities: materials to support cities in making their case, specifically: 

  1. a Leadership Guide for political and professional city leaders; 
  2. a Management Framework to help service owners collectively agree how best to move forward;
  3. a City Needs Specification to support technical staff in capturing their requirements. (Note that the version available for downloaded is an excerpt intended for the public consumption. Join the Initiative to get the full version.

(ii) For industry particularly, a Reference Architecture is published to assure cities that industry will adhere to an open standard, and provide more certainty for suppliers

(iii) For City & Industry executives, a Briefing Paper on the Reference Architecture

Cities and City Networks have signed the Letter of Intent to commit to the initiative; and a number of Industry partners have signed the Memorandum of Understanding. These include importantly many of SCC01 ‘Lighthouse’ partners


Latest news

"How much does an Urban Platform Cost?" Read the blog and contribute to the conversation. 

Latest EIP-SCC News

Status and Forward Plans

We have delivered an initial suite of documents that can engage at all levels. We have delivered an initial suite of documents that can engage at all levels. Applying these and improving them is our priority.  The latest very practical roadmap – as output from the June Action Cluster event - 


To know more...

Who signed the Demand-side Letter of Intent? or Sign up.

Who signed the Supply-side Memorandum of Understanding? or Sign Up.

Contact us at: integratedinfrastructures@eu-smartcities.eu


Action Cluster Manager Claudia De Angelis
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Members 200
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Management team
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Latest News

Is a service-centric platform model the Next Big Thing for smart cities?

Published: 13.12.2017

Is a service-centric platform model the Next B.

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