Albert Seubers (Atos): "Open Data is a primary enabler for improving citizen’s quality of life"

Interview with Albert Seubers (Global strategy & business development ICT in Cities, Atos International) about successful open data projects, the future of Open Data and the main challenges cities are facing with open data the coming years.

What are the main challenges cities are facing with open data the coming years?

Logo AtosFirst we need to be clear on what data we call Open Data. Is data that forms part of the operations performed or services delivered through contracts Open Data? If so, cities and local governments will have to seriously consider this when they renew services contracts as there is considerable value and benefit to be gained by all parties (including citizens) from this data. So a main challenge will be ensuring this data is released as Open Data.
Another challenge will be to support the implementation of sensor technology and IoT platforms to gather data that is not yet readily available. Where and why should a city invest? What will the justification for this investment be? And what business models need to be in-place to define an ROI for cities?

Can Open Data contribute to the quality of life of citizens? In which way and why is this so important?

Open Data is a primary enabler for improving citizen’s quality of life. Cities need the open data contribution from citizens to enable them to create the sustainable, livable and economically thriving cities we all want to live in. Open Data is important because it allows not only for new business models but it also provides the fuel for improved services – the services which help with everyday life – keeping you safe, helping you at work, allowing you to stay healthy, travel more safely and smoothly and feeling more connected to the city and the people who run it.

Do you have an example of a successful open data project?

There are many examples of successful open data projects, mostly those that have started with the opening up of data from government administrations to support the local economy to benefit from having a better view of the market potential in a city.
A great example of an open data project is the monitoring of air quality in Barcelona. Here, Open Data is gathered through crowd-sourcing, where Citizens volunteer to put simple sensors on their balcony which measure and share basic air quality measurements. This provides the city with a detailed overview of air quality and allows researchers to investigate the effects of pollution and helps the city to adjust and improve regulations for traffic.

What does the Open Data world looks like in 2030?

By 2030 all data that has a direct and identified link to a person or an object will be secured as government data. All data on cities either from administrations, operations or from sensor networks will be Open Data. Only this way a city can be most cost effective and will allow citizens to choose service providers based on added value.
Established and traditional business models are already changing – for example UberPOP. UberPOP is now leading discussions around certified and licensed cab companies and in 2030, as there will be fewer owned-cars, all drivers could be an UberPOP drivers if they’re certified for insurance.
In 2030, daily life as we know it will change as we will see radically new businesses and business models which are only possible because of Open Data.
So, while there may be more restrictions over what qualifies as Open Data, in 2030 we will collectively recognize (and embrace) the power of Open Data – the information it provides to produce insights and intelligence that enhance our lives in every dimension possible.


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Would you like to hear the leading examples of successful European projects with open data? The European Open Data event is the place where all European stakeholders come together! An event which is organized this year for the 5th time by the City of Eindhoven. Last year the event focused mainly at the Dutch market but this year we go European and we go a step further: Beyond Data!
More information about the program can be found on the website of the Beyond Data Event.

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