Cities have a lot of data, but this needs to be harmonized and made easily accessible

Interview with Joost Brinkman, Director Sustainability, Accenture Benelux

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

Beyond DataHaving worked with multiple cities in the last years especially on energy data, I see a couple of challenges: On one hand, cities have a lot of data, but this needs to be harmonized and made easily accessible,  but cities do not have all data that is needed to come to accurate energy planning.  Both the usage as well as the potential for energy reduction and renewables are mostly not available to the cities, but are owned by energy companies. Here the cities have a role to play and need to discuss and convince stakeholders that sharing their data will be of benefit to the data owners as well.   Since the concept of open data is relatively new, also within the city administration itself the value should be seen.    A last important aspect is the involvement of the end user:  We should engage and seduce citizens to share useful information in order to improve services for them.

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

Definitely, why should we work on it if this was not the case?  Since information will become much easier to access, citizens start utilizing and adapt their behavior to that.  This changing behavior is already very clear around solutions like advanced traffic information.  Also citizens will gain benefit from improved and fact based decisions that can be taken, when multiple data sets are brought together and taken into account.

Do you have an example of an open data project within your city?

Within Amsterdam there is a brought range of open data sets available. Within the EU project TRANSFORM Accenture  developed a decision support tool that is based on the available open data sets of building and energy usage. The tool gives urban planners and energy experts valuable insights and possibilities to do energy and improvement opportunities in a much faster and reliable way than ever before.  This open source tool will become available to other cities and regions by the end of June.  (www.urbantransform.eu).

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