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The city of Copenhagen is claiming a world first with the launch of a platform that will enable its citizens and businesses to buy and sell previously unavailable data.
Authorities hope organisations can get the data they need to create digital services in the city, which will generate business and make it a better place to live.
The City Data Exchange Copenhagen platform, developed with IT supplier Hitachi Insight Group, will also create a revenue stream for organisations selling subscriptions to their data.
The platform covers Copenhagen and the surrounding region.
Making huge volumes of data, currently held by public and private sector, available through the platform will save organisations time and money when trying to get the data they need.
Frank Jensen, Copenhagen’s mayor, told Computer Weekly he wants the city to be a hub for developing technology aimed at making cities more efficient and better places to live. The platform, and the city’s openness to innovation, creates a platform for startup companies to experiment
“I want Copenhagen to be a city laboratory for designing and testing new technology,” he said.
He said the City Data Exchange and the innovation it is expected to spur is a major part of the city’s aim to be the first carbon neutral capital by 2025.
“I want Copenhagen to be a city laboratory for designing and testing new technology”
Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen
Beyond that he expects the technology and services being developed by the thousands of startup businesses in Copenhagen will attract interest of other cities. “We will take our own medicine first, but then we can use Copenhagen as a hub for selling to other cities,” he added.
Jenson said the biggest challenge is around protecting the privacy of people. “When you are sharing data with the private sector there is a discussion about privacy,” he added, so the city has ensured all the data is anonymised.
It is up to organisations to decide which data is valuable to others, make it available through an application programming interface (API) on the platform and decide how much they will charge for access. The data will first be duplicated to Hitachi Data Systems on an Azure cloud in a datacentre in the Netherlands.
A data consumer will go into the market place to request the data they want and the regularity of the data. They will then use an API to get the feed.
Rob Farris, vice-president of business development at Hitachi Insight Group, said the main challenges around the platform are not technical, but more general, such as getting the business model that will attract participants.
“The idea of organisations sharing and selling their data is new and different. Creating a marketplace where they can monetise the data was key,” he said.
“When Copenhagen came to us, they did not say they wanted us to ‘build a marketplace’, but asked ‘how do we get all these organisations to share their data?’”
Read more about open data
- France’s first chief data officer Henri Verdier recently submitted his first annual report to the French prime minister detailing the state of open data in the country.
- Bristol City Council offers free access to transport data to encourage the development of mobile technology systems.
- The Open Banking Working Group has suggested information about products and customer transaction data should be open to improve service comparison and drive competition.
Data suppliers decide the price of their data and consumers subscribe to the data they want. “It’s like eBay. You put up your data and the price for it,” said Farris. This is usually a monthly fee.
On the launch on 18 May 2016, there were already a handful of organisations with data on the platform, said Hitachi. At least 35 are in talks about selling their data, the company added.
Farris said Danish Telco TDC is one of the companies that currently has data in the platform. He added that there is interest from multiple sectors, including banking, and retailers are showing interest in being consumers of the data.
In terms of wider interest in the platform, Farris said other Danish cities are interested, as well as Nordic neighbours Oslo and Helsinki. Further afield cities that have expressed interest include Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Denver and Austin.
Platform in use
At the launch event, three organisations gave presentations about how they will use the platform.
The first is Danish engineering consultancy firm Geo, which is an expert in subsurface. It plans to make its data available, with the construction industry the most likely to be interested. With the population of Copenhagen growing and the need for more construction, an understanding of underground structures and activity is valuable.
The second is Mind My Business, an app aimed at shopkeepers from Vizalytics Technology. The app uses data from the City Data Exchange to give shopkeepers information that will affect business. This includes traffic information, health data and details of events.
The final example came from Gehl Architects, which works with the City of Copenhagen to design public spaces. The data will help the firm better understand how certain locations are used while planning.