Lean Doody and open data in the smart city

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Lean Doody

Lean Doody, associate at Arup

10 years ago she did a masters at LSE  – then the only talk about IT and cities was about the death of place. Ubiquitous broadband would mean people could work from anywhere – why would they come to the cities.

Ed Glazer’s book: Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Made us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier argues that they allow face to face conversations with a diverse number of people – with a range of skills. They enable large numbers of small company sot collaborate, and provide an excellent experience of space – both in safety and in the range of spaces available.

How do smart cities contribute to this?

  1. Economic development
  2. great places to live and work
  3. Growth in the ecological age – they’re resource efficient

Report: Information Marketplaces, the new economics of cities. They wrote the report because there had been a lot of discussion of smart cities, but they weren’t seeing that translated onto the ground in cities. They wanted to try and help to fill that gap.

ARUP did a report with the C40 – the 38 largest cities in the world committed to making changes around climate change. Many cities are doing things like smart grid, energy metering, water metering and real-time transport information. That all yields data. But these efforts are very silted. They’ve developed a framework for viewing cities from Level 1 to Level 4 based on how integrated their technology efforts are. San Francisco is a 3.5. Most UK cities are a 1 to 2.

San Francisco has mayoral support for initiatives, and a CIO in place. The look strategically at the problems facing the city, and how technology might eb able to solve that. Congestion is one example. One big driver of congestion is people looking for parking space. So they put sensors in every parking space owned by the city – giving them real-time availability. And now they have variable pricing of parking, to manage demand.

Aarhus in Denmark launched a smart city program in January. No chairs at the launch event – they all stood for 90 minutes… “They’re vikings…”  They have a partnership between the University, academic institution, the mayor and local government. And they’re spending a year thinking about what they want the city to be. This is a bottom up approach, rather than SF’s top down.

Birmingham City council are looking at how they can better connect silos of information with technology, and create a more integrated system of thinking. It’s too easy to end up with multiple, unconnected tech projects. Can you use common infrastructure? Common apps? Where can you get efficiencies. All European cities are having to do more with less… Open data fits in positive externalities. Can we release data to let the public achieve economic aims with it.

Cautionary Tales: Sydney had an open hack day, and the winner built a bus arrival app. It was popular and successful – but it was withdrawn two weeks later, because the back end couldn’t cope. The city should have thought about that in advance. What will council IT have to put in place to support apps from open data? Developers are going to want SLAs around the data – and you could charge for that. When you procure a service from outside entities, what’s the contractual agreement around the data? Cities need to think about this.

The number of open APIs around cities has exploded in recent years. Access to public data is estimated to be worth around €27 billion across Europe.

Three steps for cities:

  1. Set a vision and metrics. Think about what you’re doing and how technology can fit on.
  2. Appoint someone with an overview and vision of what the city is trying to achieve. They need to be an informed client for vendors.
  3. Create an information marketplace, and the back end systems to allow it to work.
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.