As part of the EU smart city project RUGGEDISED and in collaboration with the EU SCC-network of smart city projects and the EIP Smart Cities marketplace, the Erasmus University Rotterdam researched and gathered data from more than 100 respondents in 80 European cities, most municipality staff responsible for urban data platform development, and 85% were partners in one of the EU SCC Lighthouse projects, funded by the European Commission. The study concluded in mid-January 2020.
The study analysed the stage of development on urban data platforms; the vision behind these platforms; the business and technology design; the implementation barriers and accelerators, and the use and impact of these platforms. The study aims to share learnings on use cases for data management of urban data platforms among European smart cities.
Participating cities in the study and their stage of development on urban data platforms
Study Findings & Recommendations
The 15 main study findings have been grouped into 5 categories. These are summarised overleaf, and then elaborated together with recommendations where appropriate.
Summary Findings & Recommendations
Adoption of UDPs – considerable recent take-up; however, a significant gap to fill
75% of cities have 10 or less applications on their platform. And usage of the currently available platforms is very low – by society, start-ups, & businesses
Key Recommendations: (i) Stimulate take up through Digital EU programme vouchers and grants. (ii) improve pragmatic monitoring mechanisms.
Purpose & Scope of UDPs
Key Recommendations: (i) Improve the communication of UDPs (ii) Strengthen the quality and visibility of the ‘packaging’ materials from the EIP-SCC & SCC01s (iii) Capture evidence-based high impact use cases (iv) Develop practical roadmaps
Key Recommendations: (i) Unpick ‘trust’; analyse, and set in place clear useful actions (ii) Bring the parties together to openly address these concerns and put steps in place to resolve them (iii) Identify the lighthouse cities leading on societal engagement (iv) Establish a clear legal charter and measurable goal for use of data by industry
Key Recommendations: (i) strengthen and stimulate use of EIP-SCC / SCC01 packaged materials via criteria / voucher schemes (ii) Pilot a CDO network, and adopt/adapt the CDO role definition (iii) Develop very practical use cases and capture structured evidence-based case studies (iv) Strengthen procurement materials
Key Recommendations: (i) Deepen the understanding of these two apparently opposed approached (ii) Capture/pilot joint business case; develop method and tools that will help multiple cities adopt
About 20% of the cities in our study have closed data in silos / verticals, and no platform. 19% are developing an internal data platform within the municipality. 45% are developing or have an urban data platform that includes data from municipality and other business stakeholders. 16% of the participating cities have an (external) urban data platform, that does not include data from the municipality.
The current rate of UDP adoption has picked up considerably in the past 5 years. It is now 30% amongst those cities engaged in smart city activities (i.e. the SCC01s). To achieve the EIP-SCC goal EU-wide is still feasible, though hard. It requires adoption by ~1,500 EU cities.
We should not shy away from the ambition, as it provides a vital foundation for digitally enabling cities – without which cross-city service transformations will be inhibited.
75% of cities have 10 or less applications on their platforms. And usage of the currently available platforms is very low – by society, Start-ups, Businesses
Purpose & Scope of UDPs
Do we really know what a UDP is, at all levels of the city such that we can see its current and future value, and can justify action?
Do we take too technical a view on what it is and does?
Motives and ambition for UDPs are clear – and presently more internally focused
UDPs can contribute to the triple bottom line: Profit, Planet and People. The top 6 motives and ambitions for UDPs are:
Data privacy and security underpin all these as a top priority
50% of Cities have clear ambitions to establish an open interoperable city-wide enabling platform that supports multiple services.
‘City Hall’ is also taking an instrumental convening role to ensure public value and steerage remains at the centre of plans. 66% of platforms are public owned, and >80% are public influenced (e.g. PPP). Overall, municipality is the orchestrator in the development of the UDP, responsible for the governance of the UDP, one of the major providers and users of data from the UDP.
Most UDPs start with mobility, built environment, energy – the physical environment (due also to the SCC01 scope). ‘Softer’ human services are less at the forefront.
There’s a long way to go to demonstrate real societal engagement and participation in the current platforms; and presently little is being done (the focus is on internal activities).
We see a “Mexican Stand-Off” with Industry
Industry has limited levels of involvement in activities. There could be various reasons for this, such as: a clear desire for city-hall convened actions; lack of Industry familiarity with complex city operations; lack of trust; lack of knowledge of industry capabilities, challenge of re-inventing industry business models; fear of misuse of data.
Trust is THE No.1 Challenge to accelerate action
Key accelerating factors in the development and use of UDPs are trust among involved partners, triple helix collaboration, open data standards & protocols and subsidies and grants.
Legislation and procurement are the big blockers
Key barriers and restricting factors are contractual complexities, legislation (such as privacy and procurement), cyber security risks, data ethics and societal concerns and the digital literacy and skills of end users. These factors are relatively stable across different stages of development.
Capacity Building – 42% of cities state they have a Chief Data Officer (CDO); good enough?
Stakeholder management is the top reported priority for that role, followed by data governance, strategy and policy, and data ecosystem management. Is the role working? Could we network these vital people to strengthen what they do; to expand their footprint and impact across EU cities?
Cross-Silo collaboration is a vital capacity to develop
After data management, the key issue is engaging and making the case amongst the service lines (within municipalities). Working in an open innovation eco system based on agile development approach also requires new leadership skills and innovation methodologies.
70% of Cities use open standards
Continued emphasis on ‘packaged’ (Lego) solutions, guidance and formal standards is required. Architecture choice is primary driven by the requirement to facilitate openness of the platform, without risk of vendor lock-in. The use of open standards supports this.
Much more to do in terms of exploiting Modern Data Techniques and sharing data
70% of the platforms currently facilitate making data available to users in an open data platform, followed by providing APIs for platform services (49%) and connecting parties. Currently 12% of the platforms visualize data in a 3D digital twin of the city, but this is envisioned to be supported by the platforms by another 56%. More advanced interactions are envisioned to be supported by the platforms, to develop these into a real marketplace. The platforms currently facilitate data analytics to a limited degree.
Where data is shared it is through barter (data for data). Data monetization potential is not yet exploited. Stretched ambitions are in place to improve how business models are established to manage things better and develop urban data platforms into real marketplaces.
We are schizophrenic about how we justify UDPs!
Half the cities justify UDPs based on ‘critical infrastructure’ reasoning, with no or limited business case; half require a clear business case. And 75% of the latter link the business case with a service line improvement case.
>80% finance UDPs with public budgets; 60% finance internally
To dramatically increase adoption, we must speed decision making; strengthen tools and techniques for making the case; and ensure that the broadest scope and future-proof capabilities are put in place early.
About Urban Data Platforms
An Urban Data Platform (UDP) exploits modern digital technologies to bring together and integrate data flows within and across city systems and make data (re)sources accessible to participants in the cities’ ecosystem. Urban data platforms will be important infrastructure to facilitate (Artificial Intelligence-based) use cases and applications, to create triple bottom line value (People, Profit and Planet) contributing to the UN sustainable development goals for smart cities.