Social Media Data, Sensor Data and Open Data can make Smart Cities sexiest.

This post is about how a combination of Social Data, Sensor Data and Open Data will make our smart cities sexiest.

I am not going to write in this post about how Team Obama uses Big Data for fundraising with Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame. Obama emailed invitations to a $40,000 a plate dinner with the President and First Lady, to be hosted at Parker’s New York City home. Pretty standard, but, catch the persuasion plays.

Mischa Dohler, cofounder and member of the Board of Directors of Worldsensing spoke at TEDxLondon’s CITY 2.0 event on the 6th December 2013.In his talk “Smart Cities – The Untold Story“, he challenged some common views around the recent hype of smart cities. The talk focused on the most burning issues of urban data (big data, open data and privacy), urban manufacturing, and the urban citizen. He outlined some viable steps to address exposed challenges and misconceptions to facilitate the emergence of truly smart cities.

Social Media Data in Smart Cities

Many companies have understood that they need to take advantage of social feedback; however, many aren’t doing anything about it. Social network user’s insight is the best potential advantage of using social media. Social insight is valuable, it’s real and organic; get direct access to consumers-citizens’ real opinions. The more conversations and messages we have from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, etc the greater potential we have to learn something that is valuable actionable and can be monetized.

With so many social networks, the value of social data can be difficult to extract. In the last couple of years a multitude of vendors looked at the different messages that their customers receive on the most popular social networks.  Between 50 and 75% of messages that companies receive on these networks don’t need to be actioned in any way — they’re just noise. Isolating relevant messages from general chatter is time-consuming. But once they identify and learn they can provide valuable insight:

  1. Shed Light on Perceptions of Your Brand ; City ;Service
  2. Peek into Citizens-Customers’ Heads
  3. Understand Which Products or Services Resonate the Best
  4. Learn from Major Citizens -Customer Issues
  5. Construct a Social Media Citizen-Customer Conversation Plan

I am sure these Social Data Service vendors will soon offer City Social Data Services so other companies can aggregate with data acquired from other Big Data Service Providers and built on top of them more added value services that can offer to their customers and therefore they can monetize their investment.

From my side, I am working in defining a new business model in which consumers-citizens will participate of a Global Data market as vendor and buyers. They will decide what to share and what to get from others. Look ambitious? I do not thinks so. J.

Sensor data in Smart Cities

If we endeavor to capture all the data from the predicted 50 billion devices (many of them located in cities) connected to the Internet will have a really Big Data problem. But the reward promise be very attractive. Moving all sensor Data to the Cloud and providing business analytics will give us direct access to an unimaginable power. But before we all become “Marvel Super Heroes”, we need to solve real life problems. If you think we’ve got Big Data problems now, can you imagine the situation in 5 years with the computing need capacity necessary to manage the explosion of billions of sensor from data acquisition to collection, process, viewing and analysis ?. There is a risk and companies and cities have to take actions now.

I envision a future IoT universe of Smart Cities in which we will receive valuable real time information coming from City Data Service Providers. Smarter Cities will leverage Sensor Data with the goal of making cities more desirable, livable, sustainable, and green and therefore attract more citizens to live or to play or to holiday or to play.

The right combination of private and public M2M or IoT  data services will definitely change the way we will walk, run, bike, drive, learn, care, enjoy, eat, protect or love. Humans are afraid of change, but we are also aware that we must evolve and improve and certainly the IoT data will be a catalyst that will help us get there.

We will continue seeing many initiatives for smart cities  like European Commission European Initiative on Smart Cities; the MIT University  or IT vendors like IBM The appetite for Sensor Data monetization is enormous.

It´s time to plan for the next decades, it’s time to invest in the infrastructures that will be able to connect the millions or billions of sensors in our cities, in our enterprises, in our life.

Open Data in Smart Cities

Open Data for Smart Cities is about increased transparency, sharing the information and building useful applications.  The European Commission has pointed out the critical role of Open Data. Neelie Kroes, Nov 2011 declared herself as a big fan of open data. Opening up public data will get citizens involved in society and political life, increase the transparency of public administration, and improve public decision making.

Many project have been launched in major cities all over the world. The European Commission itself funds some projects like CITADEL in which ITEMS is one of the partners which aims at Engaging citizens in promoting innovation.

And the good news is Economic Value of Open Data.

  • Open Gov Data in EU would increase business activity by up to €40 Bn/year
  • Direct & indirect benefits up to €200 Bn/year (1.7% of EU GDP)
  • Open Weather Data in US has created 400 companies employing 4000 people
  • Spanish study found ~€600m of business from open data with >5000 jobs

The objectives to launch Open data projects in Smart Cities are:

  • To better understand the city: What? Where? Who? How?
  • To evaluate
  • To anticipate
  • On short term: traffic congestion, risks due to weather events …
  • On long term: needs of infrastructures, needs of schools …
  • To get the real, clear and understandable indicators (scoreboards) to the attention of the mayor.

Note: The City of Santander in Spain is offering Open data in 61 catalogs. Telefonica is providing the platform, and other companies like Soningeo or Microsoft are using this information for city lighting or city budget.


IBM points out that “Smarter cities of the future will drive sustainable economic growth. Their leaders have the tools to analyze data for better decisions, anticipate problems to resolve them proactively and coordinate resources to operate effectively.”

OK IBM, good stuff to sell to Public sector. But what really will impact our lives as citizens is that City Data Service Providers in the city find the Business model that allow then to offer services that really support our needs and wishes.

Beyond Social Media Data, Sensor Data and Open Data, there is the Big Data challenge. Organizations and citizens are going to cross data coming from different sources. The point is not to access to data but how to make value of this amount of data.

Brilliant engineers are continuously demonstrating that the technology is not an issue. Big data technology is evolving fast and many vendors are offering Big Data solutions to makes it possible to analyze ALL available social media data, sensor data and open data and eliminate latency and lags.

City Data Service Provider should create the infrastructure, tools and the services to capture huge Volume of different Variety of data at different Velocity, process in real time, store, analyze and visualize and deliver to our home, car or smartphone to provide Value and turn challenges into opportunities.

It is the time for City Data Service Providers with an integral approach. It is time to get integrated services to solve our individual problems like car transit, environment, emergency response, big event planning, public safety, social programs, healthcare, plus many others.

It is time to make smart cities sexiest.

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