Sharing Data To Accelerate Innovation

By Hubert Yoshida posted 02-10-2021 18:33

Data is key to the development of innovative new businesses. The challenge for innovative new businesses is the lack of access to data or information that may only be available to larger private or government entities. In order to address this challenge, Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, announced the launch of the City Data Exchange, CDE, the first digital marketplace of its kind where public and private data is made accessible to make smart cities more sustainable, vibrant, and prosperous. The concept of a central data mart was conceived by Copenhagen to help achieve their goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 by enlisting the collective innovation of the public and private sector. While Copenhagen has been aggressively initiating smart city programs such as smart lighting, traffic management, and intelligent building management, up to now the data from these individual projects have been kept in silos. While individual data streams are valuable for an individual project, integrating and sharing that data is required to build a smart city, where health services, public safety, energy and businesses work together.


Copenhagen and the Capital region around Copenhagen partnered with Hitachi to build an integrated cloud platform that establishes a city data marketplace for the sale and purchase of data that is combined from multiple sources like data from public authorities, traffic sensors, energy usage, and information submitted by individuals and businesses. This is one of the first times public data and private data volunteered by businesses and citizens will be combined. While the benefits of sharing this data is obvious to public administrators and citizens, why would businesses want to share data and buy data in this way?

This is an exchange, a marketplace, where businesses can earn money from data that may be otherwise occupying expensive storage capacity and generating no revenue. It can also give them information about the consumers of their data. Also buying data from a single repository will be less costly than creating their own data silos. While CDE was originally conceived to help Copenhagen’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025, it has commercial value by providing businesses with deeper insights into their businesses and customers, which enables better business planning and opportunities for business innovation. City Data Exchange will only accept data that has been fully anonymized by the data supplier to ensure privacy. All of this spares organizations the trouble and cost of extracting and processing data from multiple sources.

"Smart Cities need smart insights, and that's only possible if everybody has all the facts at their disposal. The City Data Exchange makes that possible; it's the solution that will help us all to create better public spaces and -- for companies in Copenhagen to offer better services and create jobs," said Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

Hitachi is taking a similar approach to addressing the people mobility business by making data that is generated in Hitachi, available to startups. Jim Donaldson, head of innovation for Europe at Hitachi, was recently interviewed by Wired online magazine in the UK about this approach.

UK Train.jpg

True end-to-end mobility requires more than looking at individuals' travel patterns, but also insight into infrastructure – datasets that small startups may have difficulty accessing. For example, trains are covered with thousands of sensors and networks are evolving with smart signaling, but rail travel hasn't changed that substantially. Unlike adtech, gaming or finance, mobility in general is still comparatively light on data use says Jim Donaldson, "The amount of activity going on is actually genuinely low," he says. That's especially true with national infrastructure and the heavy rail system. "The potential is still being explored." For new ideas, Hitachi wants to work with startups, building an accelerator that will give smaller mobility companies access to infrastructure they'd never see otherwise. Train sensors help improve maintenance to avoid delays, smart signaling keeps networks moving and responsive, and digital tickets are convenient for operators and passengers. But more could be done”, says Donaldson. "You've got all these little silos of activity," he says. "How do you pull all those together, so you have a unified view of passenger journeys and their needs? And when you've got that, then you can optimize to provide a much better experience and ultimately get people where they need to be going, faster and cheaper."

Hitachi's work in mobility expands beyond its well-known rail business. Hitachi has a huge number of disparate capabilities related to mobility. Ram Ramachander who heads up the social innovation business for EMEA at Hitachi, points to its automotive and fleet leasing, as well as smart buildings and smart terminals, all of which could help inform mobility and address everything from autonomy to decarbonization. "," says Ramachander. "We have a massive R&D spend around the future of mobility, from virtual technologies to vehicle design, all the way to autonomous driving." Donaldson adds: "Having a complete system view, you're not optimizing your little silo, you're looking at the whole, end to end."

The idea is to join up those various areas internally, and to also work with external partners, including startups via the accelerator. "Internally, we're going to pull together this entire ecosystem," says Ramachander. "We have a significant advantage from the data we're sitting on.