Karl-Filip Coenegrachts "Datamanagement and open data are of utmost importance in a roadmap towards a smart city"

Prior to the Beyond Data Event we interviewed Karl-Filip Coenegrachts, Chief Strategy Officer, City Of Gent. Can open data contribute to the quality of life of citizens? And what are the main challenges cities are facing with open data?

Beyond Data EventWhat are the main challenges cities are facing with open data the coming years?

I believe that we are still in the very early stages of opening up local government data. Mainstreaming open data and integrating the existing open data projects and policies in the core processes of our cities are the current challenges. Even more strategically important for our cities is to create a vision and implementing that vision on data and information management.
Looking at the way our databases are structured and kept and looking at the quality of local data in general, a lot of work still needs to be done to clean up and structure data and decide on standards for data gathering and storing. Only then can we start with effective information management. Having reliable information is necessary for further analysis and creation of knowledge. Knowledge is the basis for a better understanding. This finally leads to more wisdom (smartness) and provides the best circumstances for better policy.
That is why datamanagement and open data are of utmost importance in a roadmap towards a smart city.

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

Better datamanagement and giving citizens, hackers and companies the opportunity to enrich existing datasets can lead to a better understanding of the fabric of a city. But it is only when policy makers are prepared to use the products of their own analysis and combined open datasets to improve policy and strategies that the quality of life of the citizens of the city will really improve. This is an important aspect of policy participation and the co-creation of the city of the future.

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

Ghent has many open data projects that are worth mentioning. For the fifth edition of our annual AppsForGhent hackaton we will be opening up our library datasets with a clear focus on creating the tools for a library of the future.
But the most ambitious open data project for this year is creating an open Gent 2020. Gent 2020 is the name of the integrated multi-annual strategy for Ghent and contains all information on policy objectives, activities and projects and the linked budgets and investments. It also contains information on actuals and status of all the projects in the city. Opening up budget datasets is not new, but on this scale and level of detail it will be unique.

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