The City of Eindhoven in the Netherlands boasts a long history of tech-savvy, educated, and hard working citizens. The birthplace of electronics giant Phillips and home to several universities, the town’s current leaders want to engage the broader community in as much civic activity and problem solving as possible. How does it plan to do so? By offering one of the most robust and comprehensive open data programs in Europe.
Open data is the next big instrument all smart cities should use
“Eindhoven is into all kinds of interactive instruments to talk to citizens and stakeholders. We think co-creation is a way to proceed and become a smart city. Open data is the next big instrument all smart cities should use. We see it as a tool to do something,” says Eindhoven Vice Mayor Mary-Ann Schreurs.
A longtime technology leader in the Netherlands, Eindhoven picked up on the open data trend early on. The IT team there started researching open data more than three years ago. Schreurs says she saw it as a “participation instrument” and predicted that it would transform how cities run and how citizens engage with their governments. “We had a hunch it could be something and we worked hard to promote it,” says Schreurs.
The team first considered using open source software to build out its own, customized open data platform. Then, city leaders heard that many large cities in the U.S. were on the Socrata platform and decided to do a side-by-side comparison between Socrata and the open source software, using the same datasets to upload into each system.
The six-month contest was over within a number of weeks. “When you buy open source software you get what you pay for, it’s free. It was built by academics to share information not by people who want to solve city problems,” says Schreurs.
The team found that the effort and expense involved in hosting, building, and maintaining an open source solution felt unreasonable when compared to the simplicity of Socrata’s pre-built solution.
They also consider being on the same platform as many American cities an advantage, despite feeling a pressure from the European community to be open source.
“When I met Socrata, I liked our meeting and I felt a sense of trust. All the negative feelings I had were gone because I really see that [Socrata is] working hard to further open data. Everyone in our open data team has the same feeling. We made a connection with Socrata,” says Eindhoven Communications Director Gaby Sadowski.
Beyond Data Event
Mary-Ann Schreurs and Gaby Sadowski will share their vision on data with professionals during the Beyond Data Event. More information about this event and the KSF meeting of Eurocities can be found on the website of the Beyond Data Event.