Data economy in the smart city landscape - X // EIT Digital

Data economy in the smart city landscape - X

There are plenty of indicators showing comparative cost of living in different cities. Today we have the tools and data to provide quasi real time indicators on the cost of each city infrastructure and the cost pro capita to users. Credit: Geneses publishing LLC

I'd like to close this long rambling on data economy in the smart city landscape by calling for providing visibility to citizens on the city life in an understandable way. 

We have data on a variety of city life aspect, its population distribution, the availability of resources, the use being made of these resources and the cost of using them. This latter is very likely the easiest to understand figure we can provide and yet, for various reasons it seems public authorities and private players are shy in providing the figures.  

I claimed in previous post that a city is about its infrastructures and its infrastructures effectiveness is a good parameter to gauge the smartness of the city. Gauging this effectiveness in terms of cost vs quality provides a good understanding.

Infrastructures support all services a city offers to its citizens, from transportation to health care, from innovation to production, from education to logistics...

The point I am making is that we should provide citizens with a good understanding of the cost of these infrastructures as they are using them, benefiting from them, and not in general terms (aggregated cost) but in a specific term, i.e. how much dos it cost now to provide you with this service, be it drinking a glass of water from the tap, watching a movie on the television, riding your car to get the kids from school, having the kids at school!

Take the example of Health care. In Italy, and in Europe, health care is basically free to all citizens. It is free in the sense that as an individual we are not paying for health care when we are receiving the service but of course the service itself has a cost that is shared by the community in form of taxes. It wouldn't be difficult to provide a rough real time estimate of the service cost.

Imagine: you go to the hospital and you receive a cure. Every day you will see on your citizen profile (just you, data are not shared with others) the cost of the hospitalisation, of the medicine, of the exams, surgery, whatever.

Once you are dismissed from the hospital and you stay home for a week recovery you will see on your profile what is the cost of social insurance, and to the company you are working, to pay for your salary as you are recovering.

These data can be aggregated at a company and city level, so that everybody can see the social cost of health care for that company, that city. As you walk into an hospital you can see cost data displayed along an index that is showing the cost vs quality of service and possibly a comparison with other hospitals in the city or in the Country.

It is not about forcing people to resume work sooner, it is about to provide awareness on the real cost of a community. I am convinced we would be more inclined to pay taxes as we appreciate the cost of making a city and its community work.

I chose the health care example because it is so personal, and it is also an area where one has to be careful to provide quality indicators, the € or ¥ or $ can be misleading if published all alone. But this kind of economic awareness can be generated on all infrastructures a city is made of and it is offering.

Riding your car should result in information on the cost scaled to your actual use of the infrastructure: and that is much more than the gasoline used. It involves the time you are wasting on the road, the cost of accident (that is a function of the traffic and of the quality of the road infrastructure....).

It might seem bleak to reduce everything to an economic value but, provided we include quality and well being parameter, it makes for a clearer understanding of what the city is offering and ultimately on how much smart the city really is.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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