Data economy in the smart city landscape - VIII

the 2015 Telecom Italia Big Data Challenge. Credit: Telecom Italia

Stimulating awareness of the potential of the data economy in a smart city context can be done in two ways: an active, in a participative and in a passive way.

The active way means to find ways to engage people in using data to create value.

At the Italian Node we have pursued this approach in several ways. One, see the clip, was to set up, and keep doing it, a Big Data Challenge open to single individuals and companies all over the world by providing them with free access to data.

The first edition took place in 2014 and we opened up data from the Trento Regions. The success was unexpected, attracting over a thousands people from 20 Countries and resulting in over 100 smart ideas. The second edition is ongoing (with submission closing in September) and it will provide a much larger set of free data to unleash innovative ideas.

Another approach we are pursuing is the evangelisation of young people. In Trento we have every year The ICT Days an opportunity to meet people, particularly young people but also lay citizens and as EIT Digital we make sure to be part of it and spread the gospel.  Furthering the dissemination of the potential of the data economy in smart cities through open data we are giving lectures at the Trento high school in ICT, Istituto Buonarroti, and at the University.

Engaging the young generation and stimulating them to create applications based on the availability of city's data is a great way to create awareness. It is also important to teach them how to turn value into money. Even a 10c price makes a difference from a free app, both for the user and the producer. 
In most cases the young generation is happy when it creates a free app and see some using it, and this is fine. It is also ethical in the sense of working for the common good.  However, charging for the work done is also ethical and implies a commitment from the developer towards her "customers" that is completely different from the one existing when an app is free: it is free... if you don't like it stop using it. 
On the other hand, if you are charging, no matter what, for an app you implicitly have an obligation to make it work for the customer, and the customer, by paying for it, expects a service.

From an educational point of view it is important. In a way by teaching to create free apps we engage the young generation, by teaching to create sellable apps you create entrepreneurs, something that our European schooling system is seldom doing.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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