Shaping Data Standards for Future Cities

Rhiannon Law

Future cities face many challenges as urban populations increase. Physical resources – such as energy and water – along with healthcare, traffic, public transport and other logistics need careful management in order to meet the needs of citizens, maintain economic growth and ensure sustainability. The effective use of data and new technology solutions are providing new tools and opportunities that can help overcome these challenges.

On Friday 19th May, the Urban Big Data Centre – as part of our SASNet programme and in collaboration with the British Standards Institution (BSI) – hosted an event to highlight how data standards can support the widespread adoption of common approaches to the implementation of products and services in future cities.

The audience at ‘Shaping Data Standards for Future Cities’ heard presentations on how standards are developed, the new data sharing framework for UK smart cities, and the role of the citizen in guiding smart city standards. There were also case studies from Peterborough, Glasgow, Eindhoven and Helsinki. The presentations sparked lively discussions on topics such as data sharing and access, the role of citizens, smart city leadership and the Internet of Things.

Tom Digby-Rogers (Lead Programme Manager, Sustainability, BSI Group) commented on BSI’s role in this event, saying:

For BSI, these events are extremely important as a platform to advocate the benefits of standards to a wider audience who might not be familiar with the role of standardisation in building positive market conditions for increased local investment as well as export opportunities for products and services.

By drawing together the collective wisdom and experience of experts and stakeholders, we can create voluntary standards of good practice that cities and communities can use to build their individual vision, strategy and plan, assisting with the implementation of infrastructure projects while also providing guidance on data management and the role of Big Data. Standards are a key component for city transformation, providing tools to better manage and take advantage of the opportunities associated with adopting a smart city model.

Ultimately, the true benefit for collaborating through standardisation can only be fully leveraged through more engagement with cities and communities and greater uptake and implementation of standards.

Colleague Tim McGarr (Market Development Manager [Digital], BSI Group) said:

The event looked at smart cities and standards from a number of different, but coherent, perspectives. This breadth meant all the attendees learned something new from the day and it sparked many interesting conversations in the breaks. From my perspective, it was a great opportunity to talk about a number of British Standards in Big Data that we will be starting shortly. I was able to get a variety of views on these subjects (Terms & Conditions, Project Communication, Project Management and Data Driven Organisations) and get stakeholders involved in actively contributing to these standards.”

Speaker Simon Tricker, Co-founder and CDO of UrbanTide, said it was a “Thought-provoking event with excellent speakers. Great to learn more about the smart cities standards and see them being implemented across the UK & Europe“.

Graham Ross, another speaker and Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, commented:

The (Y)our City Centre project takes an ambitious yet pragmatic approach to the regeneration of the heart of Scotland’s largest city. To enable the delivery of transformational change in Glasgow city centre the availability and reliability of data to help inform evidence-based forward planning, and ultimately monitor the impact of implementation, becomes increasingly crucial. It was therefore very informative to hear lessons from elsewhere and to gain an insight in to the benefits of coordinating and sharing data to enable Smarter Cities and city-making.

Links to the videos and the presentation downloads, along with social media and images from the day, can be found on the event Storify page.

If you are interested in collaborating with Urban Big Data Centre or using our data services, please visit our website.

The ESRC-funded Urban Big Data Centre, part of the Urban Transformations portfolio, is a major research centre focusing on the use of big data to assess a range of social and economic issues. More about the centre and its research can be found on the UBDC website.