[IEEE Xplore] Readings on Smart Cities -- [Editorial] Vol. 1, Issue 4, April/May 2015

Smartly Opening Up City Data

By Rosaldo J. F. Rossetti

Open data has a great catalysis potential in the Smart Cities’ pursuit of innovation. Recent developments towards opening up data in the process of urban “smartification” have demonstrated that making machine-readable information freely available can foster citizen empowerment, enhance public services through participation, leverage new business models, and ultimately change the paradigm on which governments operate. However, many issues still remain to be appropriately addressed so that open data can be explored to its full potential. This issue of our Readings on Smart Cities starts our discussion on open data, its role in the urban smartification process, and issues demanding appropriate attention from all open data stakeholders.

In their work on "Unlocking the Value of Open Data with a Process-Based Information Platform," Masip-Bruin and colleagues [1] discuss undesirable side effects of current strategies to open up and effectively use data. Authors list lack of data quality, incompatible data formats and access methods, and various semantic interpretations of data as some of such adverse outcomes, which consequently avoid open-data stakeholders to offer citizens and business value-added applications and services. To address these issues and make open data actionable, they also propose a systematic value-creation process that helps stakeholders identify the most suitable information assets and convert them into forms that can be more consumable by users. Their platform leverages open data on features such as data quality assessment, data homogenization for uniform access, data correlation and semantic adaptation, and secure data access. Gkoulalas-Divanis and Mac Aonghusa [2] emphasise that an important characteristic of open data environments is that once published, it is difficult to anticipate how the data will be used, and that linking innocuous datasets together may lead to serious privacy violations. Authors then provide an introduction to data privacy and present some popular privacy models that have been proposed for privacy-preserving data publishing and knowledge hiding. Their work focuses on strengths and limitations of such models, and explains the important challenges that open data platforms introduce with respect to data privacy. In a rather practical perspective, Motta, Sacco, and Belloni [3] present their on-going research and development of IRMA, an Integrated Real-time Mobility Assistant. IRMA architecture consists of a smartphone application and a set of web services to gather and interpret any relevant source of information, which includes open data, crowd data and big data. Authors make use of the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) to access open data, which defines a common format for sharing public transportation schedules and associated geographic information. Through such specification public transit agencies can publish their transit data allowing developers to write applications that consume that data in an interoperable way.

Indeed, “open data are increasingly generating new business worldwide, providing citizens with a wealth of information that they can combine and aggregate in unprecedented ways” [2]. Although the recognised potential benefits of open data are enormous, many issues remain to be appropriately addressed by all open data stakeholders, such as governments, industry, application developers and citizens. Nevertheless, open data is definitely an important enabler of urban smartification contributing to innovation with citizen and business value-added applications and services.

Good readings!


IEEE Xplore References

  1. X. Masip-Bruin, G. J. Ren, R. Serral-Gracià and M. Yannuzzi, "Unlocking the Value of Open Data with a Process-Based Information Platform," 2013 IEEE 15th Conference on Business Informatics, Vienna, 2013, pp. 331-337.
  2. A. Gkoulalas-Divanis and P. Mac Aonghusa, "Privacy protection in open information management platforms," in IBM Journal of Research and Development, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 2:1-2:11, Jan.-Feb. 2014.
  3. G. Motta, D. Sacco, A. Belloni and L. You, "A system for green personal integrated mobility: A research in progress," Service Operations and Logistics, and Informatics (SOLI), 2013 IEEE International Conference on, Dongguan, 2013, pp. 1-6.


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