Winn Nielsen, Head of City Data, City of Copenhagen, Denmark, tells Geospatial World, how open data can support e-governance and the smart city agenda.
Copenhagen: Smart connections
The smart city of Copenhagen makes non-sensitive municipal data openly available to the public, which enables private companies to develop digital and other welfare technology solutions to support the municipal work. This data includes the 3D models of both buildings and terrain in Copenhagen,and the information about traffic, parking, the city’s physical infrastructure, current activities in urban spaces, etc. The project is designated as ‘Lighthouse Project’ under the theme ‘Infrastructure for Future Growth (smart city)’ in Copenhagen’s Budget 2014 and is a central piece of the overall smart city agenda in Copenhagen.
What is the concept of open data and how it is relevant to the smart city of Copenhagen?
Open data is a central point for any city that is smart in its character. We are trying to make data available to public — not only to ensure transparency — but also to make our citizens better informed. The sharing of data would enable us to have a dialogue because the citizens know as much as we do.
You have an integrated platform to make the data available for public consumption. Elaborate on the key highlights?
The portal is based on open source software called CKAN. And we have designed the workflow in such amanner that some of the data that we us internally is transferred externally to the CKAN site, and the public can access it. We regularly contribute to the development of software with bug fixes and enhancements.
Tell us about the data sets that are currently provided.
Most of the data available today is from the Technical and Environmental Administration, such as, the 3D city model. However, more recently, we have made available some internal data sets which we use in public administration. Building applications would be an example of that. We want to ensure that, in future, both public and private data come together into play as a growth engine.
Can you give us some user cases for making data openly available?
The crucial thing is that by giving people access to this data, we can save a lot of time and money. This is possible because people can look up the data themselves, instead of us providing them with the information on individual basis. They can simply refer to our open data platform and find what they are looking for. Moreover, internally, if somebody in the administration is trying to build a system or a platform, they can also re-use this data. So, you see, this paves the way for a business case as well — maybe not a big one, but definitely a growing one.
Which agencies are using the open data platform currently? And what does the future look like?
Apart from the public in general, a lot of companies working with visualisation and geospatial data are making use of our 3D models. I have to admit that a lot of work is required to make this platform bigger. Not only do we need to make more data available in the existing domain, we need to introduce a lot of other domains as well. Also, the concept of standardisation is very important. So, what we are doing now is trying to grow from a ‘Smart City Open Data Copenhagen’ agenda to ‘Open Data Denmark’ agenda. This would also allow other organisations to build apps for scale; they would be able to cater to the entire country, instead of just one city.