A new model for innovation through Open Data in cities

barcelona-838716_1920Over the last decade, recognising the innovation potential, we have established a strong track record in various Smart sectors such as energy efficiency, city resilience and industry. Innovation within these themes has pushed them closer to become mainstream.

In the last three years, authorities at all levels realise that data is a key asset and a major source for innovative services and economic growth, binding Smart initiatives together. European policy makers, in the European Public Sector Information (PSI) directive, are encouraging authorities to unlock the potential value contained within.

Tasked by the client, a Dutch national Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment to stimulate internal innovation, Bax & Company partners Rolf Bastiaanssen, Sebastiaan van Herk and consultant Kelvin Ong, set out to understand and create the conditions to exploit the opportunities that this all-encompassing topic presented. Building on that knowledge, we developed a project to support the long-term ambitions of all stakeholders.

Through continuous dialogue with leading governments and municipalities in data usage such as London and Dublin, Bax & Company realised that regional and national authorities face common challenges that require new strategies and ways of thinking to solve.

“In fact, cities often lack the capacity to interpret the data on their hands, given the novelty of data-driven decision-making.”

Cities have different approaches in using data. As public authorities are organised to meet specific citizen needs, they are unable to obtain the cross-sectoral interactions that is a necessary condition for innovation. In fact, cities often lack the capacity to interpret the data on their hands, given the novelty of data-driven decision-making. To achieve quick-wins, cities sometimes outsource data collection, processing and analysis to big firms, who look to lock their municipal partners in by using their proprietary technology. Front-running national and regional organisations lean more and more towards using and creating open-source solutions as a way to improve the accessibility of the generated solutions.

Also, the departmental nature of organisations means that public departments do not possess all the capabilities (beyond basic sensor installations and data collection) to extract full value from the data. As an example, traffic departments are focused on traffic challenges, unable to access and combine data from other departments and sources.

To complicate matters further, authorities do not know what quality and type of data the private sector requires spin off private sector solutions to municipal challenges. The data collected and released for use is of low value.

This limits the current market, as innovators face major barriers:

  • Limited focus on end-user needs, but rather ‘data-push’ by authorities, restraining commercial potential
  • Lack of public body experience with the publication of PSI, limiting the availability of high-value data for data intelligence and innovation by SMEs
  • Shortage of links between data initiatives and SME solution providers, reducing market uptake

An estimated €300B added value remains untapped. Using a novel approach developed by Bax & Company, we support our partners to challenge SMEs to develop and pilot transnational, commercial PSI-based solutions and services. These will be prototyped operationally in the Environment and Infrastructure domains, such as in emergency traffic management, air and water quality monitoring, and infrastructure maintenance planning.

“An estimated €300B added value remains untapped.”

Combining this approach with public procurement processes, we expects partners to save more than €100M from process efficiencies. The approach and innovations will be showcased and upscaled beyond the partnership to tap the €300B growth potential. Ultimately, this will lead to benefits on multiple fronts. Front-runners in this field will have internationally validated pilots and can provide guidance on public data publication procedures. Authorities will obtain significant cost savings to reinvest in other important initiatives, and SMEs will have increased revenue while developing their data capabilities, leading to increased international visibility for European authorities and enterprise.

Bax & Company is at the forefront of these developments and is providing strategic advice to leading initiatives across Europe. In the coming months, we will reach out to other cities and authorities with the aim to create the necessary conditions for data initiatives to flourish and accelerate the further development of the market.

For more information of what Bax & Company can do for cities, please take a look at our brochure

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