Innovation in Smart Cities of the future - Part VII, Big Data in Smart Cities

Relation between Data and Smart Cities. Credit: dr. Antonio J. Jara

This form of art in Minneapolis will show different shades of colour in synch with the mood of citizens in Minneapolis derived from an analyses of their tweets. Credit: Sayegh and Cochrane

The conversion in bits of the biz, of the services, of entertainment, of products and in general of the Society is the result of the advances in the basic technologies mentioned before. This digitalization has resulted in an amazing growth of data in all paths of life. And there is no end in sight.

According to Domo in a single minute in 2015 people generate 347,000+ tweets and upload the equivalent of 300h of video on YouTube, check 1.7 million photos on instagram and pin 9,700 photos on Pinterest. 694 people ride on Uber (and this number was 0 just two years ago). Many of these data are tied, or can be tied to cities and they are all generated and shared by people. Clearly they are a tiny fraction of data that are related to cities but they show the kind of relationship between citizens and cities that can be leveraged by looking at what citizens decide to share.

The drawing, taken from a stack of slides of Antonio J. Jara available on SlideShare, well represents the relation between a Smart City and its related data. The IoT is going to be the largest source of data. IoT is already a reality, although it will grow at least 100x in the next ten years, but the problem is that the data generated are seldom shared, they are not, so far, Big Data, hence they can be of little help in the monitoring of the city. Interestingly human dynamics is also an important component that is both generating (with plenty of privacy issues) data and using the information emerging from the data.  The Cloud is seen as the overall repository for data and for the processing of data. Notice the loop leading from data harvesting to their processing and finally to the activation of feedbacks.

Now it is time to leverage on this gigantic data repository and smart cities are at the same time generators and potential users of Big Data.  
Also, and very important, smart cities can become instrumental in the creation of big data platforms that can sustain the data economy and the wellbeing and thrift of their citizens.

We can exploit Big Data analyses to check the pulse of the emotional state of a city.  Like in this web site analyzing tweets in the Minneapolis area that are then converted into a lighting show in a park.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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