Copenhagen to sell public and private city data via exchange marketplace

Copenhagen to monetize public and private city data via exchange website
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Traffic snarl-ups, home break-ins and residents' electricity usage use is among the data the city will trade for cash

Copenhagen has become the first city in the world to attempt to monetize its, and others’, data through a city data market.

Traffic snarl-ups, home break-ins, whether it rained or snowed, and how much electricity the city dwellers use each day is among the data to be traded for cash, city officials announced. Interestingly, the city, which is partnering with Hitachi on the project, also wants to incorporate others’ data.

City officials say the availability of municipal data through the City Data Exchange website will help companies “develop new, innovative solutions to create smarter cities.” But it’s both public and “private sector organization” data that will be made available.

Not all data will have a price tag—some of it will be free, but it will be anonymized anyway.

“Data is the fuel powering our digital world, but in most cities it is unused,” says Hans Lindeman of Hitachi Insight Group, in a TM Forum article. “Even where data sits in public, freely accessible databases, the cost of extracting and processing it can easily outweigh the benefits.”

Lindeman says the city marketplace will synergize smart city data and sales.

Sixty-five sources of open data, “including demographics, weather and crime statistics,” are expected to be available.

City data distribution becoming common

City marketplaces distributing free data are becoming common. The Leeds City Council in the United Kingdom, for example, has built an open data compendium website for its city. That Leeds Data Mill site includes 293 data sets related to education, housing, health and so on.

And public transportation is a popular dataset offer from some cities. Often, a private company gets hold of the data and then builds an app around the xml—say transit congestion—which the app developer then monetizes to recoup the development costs if it can.

London has a “free and open data-sharing portal,” Greater London Authority says on the 500-data set London Datastore site. Notably, there’s no shopping cart, as with the Copenhagen site. Over 5,000 developers have registered for the U.K. capital city’s 30 travel feeds and APIs.

In the U.S., website makes available 5,005 free data sets, such as crime and demographics, from city governments.

But it’s the monetization and incorporation of private, non-government-derived data that makes Copenhagen’s project unusual.

“The City Data Exchange provides a single location for access to public and private data from many different sources,” Greater Copenhagen’s website says. Consumers should be able to explore and subscribe to data sets from numerous sources, yet access it using one account and “one set of protocols,” the site says.

And there’s something to be said for making data easier to consume. Data should be morphed into a commodity, like oil, experts have said. I’ve written about how data scientists are worried that data’s just being hoarded and not used. Big data should be used in an entrepreneurial way to create “profitable information-based products and services,” a British government agency said in a research project recently.

The City Data Exchange will “add analytical tools” later in 2016, too, according to the TM Forum article.

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