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  • Thierry Spanjaard

More data to bring better life?

Last week, during Smart City event in Marseille, France, politicians shared the stage with more technical people to discuss the city of tomorrow. All of them combine high promises with high expectations and propose to turn our cities in places where our lives will be better. The Smart City promise typically encompasses better housing, better transportation, better access to services, … and to create Future Cities.

IBM has established that 90% of data ever created was created in the last two years. Data are created by public and private entities alike, and we all know some of the largest creators of data are the GAFAM (Google Amazon Facebook Apple Microsoft). Of course, this raises questions not only on how these data are generated, but also on who owns them. A framework is now provided to European citizens by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), but not every issue is answered.

According to Carlos Moreno, professor at Paris-I - Pantheon Sorbonne University, the world can be seen nowadays as a set of hyperconnected megalopolis, which become autonomous entities but can only live when they are connected to each other. Largest megalopolis for the XXIst century include Lagos, Kinshasa, Mumbai, Delhi, Cairo, Manila, Shanghai, … . Our old Europe is slowly shifting off the map. These metropolis gain more power than state governments and are in competition with each other. As financial means and primary resources are available everywhere, the competition-winners will be the cities that succeed in being the most attractive to citizens. This attractiveness is driven by a combination of parameters: of course, economic dynamism plays a part, but also quality of life is becoming a key differentiator. With our XXIst century technologies, quality of life improves when a city government can make the best decision based on accurate realtime data.

For this reason, city governments have to combine their efforts with other entities and to demonstrate they create, gather and use data to make better decisions and, at the end of the day, lead to a better quality of life for each of us.

Of course, the Smart City promise revolves around obtaining more data to make all this efficient, convenient, easy for all of us. However, many Smart City projects actually concentrate more on gathering data than on making these data available to decision-makers and ensuring they will use them wisely. How shall we ensure that decisions made by politicians are the best?

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