Smart cities
Smart cities

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2.1 City open data

A photograph of the view of Lower Manhattan, New York, USA, from the Hudson River.
Figure 6 New York City.

Opening up city data is important, but what can you create using it and how user-friendly are the interfaces that encourage people to use the data?

Glasgow, as part of its Future Cities Demonstrator project, has created a Data Launchpad [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . The portal has around 400 datasets and a series of data stories. Interactive maps have been created, incorporating 43 datasets. These have been exhibited at Glasgow’s Future Cities Community Engagement hubs. They visualise the multitude of assets and services available across the city.

The London DataStore is an open data platform that provides over 500 datasets. It’s designed to help citizens, businesses, researchers and developers to understand the city and develop solutions to London’s problems. The platform has a section showcasing apps that have been created using the data, such as Whereabouts London and The London Schools Atlas. It also includes a City Dashboard showing how the city is performing against key indicators. You’ll be exploring indicators further in later in the course.

NYC Open Data shares public data generated by New York City (NYC) agencies and other city organisations for public use. It has more than 1,300 datasets available to anyone, in a variety of machine-readable formats. The platform also shares examples of people visualising datasets. One example is vehicle collisions aggregated by time of day using data released by the New York Police Department. Another is an interactive visualisation of trees on New York’s streets. In July 2015 NYC’s Mayor launched Open Data for All – an open data strategy for the city which is a vision of what they can do and what they aim to achieve with open data by ‘ensuring citizens across the five boroughs have broad and consistent access to publicly available data’ (City of New York, 2015). You’re going to take a closer look at this platform next.

Activity 2 Considering New York City as a case study

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Take a look on the NYC Open Data platform and identify any datasets relevant to the city problem you chose in Week 2. This will be for New York rather than for your own city but it will give you an idea of what data may be made available.

Is there something of interest to you here? Do you find the platform easy to navigate?

Find out if your city has an open data platform.

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