Half of all smart city dwellers will be sharing data by 2019 – Gartner

Open data use might be generating as much as 20% of all local government revenue soon after, too

Posted 15 December 2016 by Gary Flood

'open data (scrabble)' by justgrimes on FlickrCites round the world are starting to embrace smart tech and open data – a phenomenon analysts Gartner say could be great news for cash-strapped Town Halls.

By 2019, 50% of citizens in million-people sized and up conurbations will benefit from smart city programmes by voluntarily sharing their personal data, the firm predicted today.

And citizens will experience some of the benefits of sharing data passively, through government and commercial collaboration – and as this hyperconnectivity picks up pace, citizens will become more aware of the value of their “life data” and will be willing to proactively exchange it for “in the moment” value.

“As citizens increasingly use personal technology and social networks to organise their lives, governments and businesses are growing their investments in technology infrastructure and governance,” said Anthony Mullen, research director at the organisation.

“This creates open platforms that enable citizens, communities and businesses to innovate and collaborate, and ultimately, provide useful solutions that address civic needs.”

The volume and diversity of the data generated by citizens will continue to grow in line with the proliferation of consumer devices and the IoT.

One of the major barriers for citizens interacting with government is the complexity of engaging via a variety of touch points, fears the firm, pointing out that getting even as straightforward a question as, “Am I eligible to vote?” can lead citizens through complex processes and rules and onto a variety of web sites.

In response, the public is turning to conversational platforms like virtual personal assistants and messaging bots over traditional apps and websites. Governments are also adapting to this change. As a result, machine-readable data generated on how citizens interact with government and their city is rapidly growing – creating a huge opportunity to develop open data portals that can increase efficiency, improve citizen experience, drive innovation and generate revenue for government organisations, Gartner believes.

“Open data portals in cities are not a new thing, but many portals today have limited machine readability and therefore limited business value,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research vice president at Gartner.

“The city becomes ‘smart’ when the data is collected and governed in a way that can produce valuable real-time real-time streams, rather than just backward-looking statistics or reports.”

Gartner predicts that 20% of all local government organisations will generate revenue from value-added open data through data marketplaces by 2020.

The key to monetisation will be automating and extending the user experience to allow citizens and businesses to discover and prepare data, and to find patterns and share them within their community or organisation.

“Users will have a number of options to ‘pay’ for data access depending on the use case,” said Tratz-Ryan.

“A normal citizen may simply participate via data democracy and have free access in return for providing their own data, whereas commercial use may require sharing revenue with the data owner, or buying a license to access an enriched data source.”

Gartner clients can read more in the research note “Predicts 2017: Government CIOs Are Caught Between Adversity and Opportunity.”