With billions of people around the world
migrating to our cities, today’s leaders know their governments must transform
or their communities will be passed by. To guide this transformation, instead
of being led by it, you must make the most of a crucial resource: your data. That
may mean collecting new data through citywide sensors, sharing data across departments,
or analyzing all of it using new technologies. The idea is to make connections
that have never before been possible. You can then use these insights to create
better policies, programs, and services. And these will, in turn, make your
city more livable, competitive, and responsive to its skyrocketing population.
I see a few opportunities for city data in the
1. New revenue sources
What if you could turn all your data into
dollars? Already, city transportation departments are using their
traffic-congestion data to identify clear driving routes in real-time. I can
imagine this insight being sold to commuters willing to pay a fee to get
across town faster. Having access to this information would be a real
livability gain for city dwellers and real revenue for cities: In the UK alone,
untapped data is estimated at up to £6
cities under pressure not only to preserve but also increase citizen services,
that revenue could be quite a boon.
2. Huge efficiency gains
I see Big Data helping cities dramatically cut
wasted time, money, and natural resources. The city of Seattle, in partnership
with Microsoft and Accenture, plans to use predictive analytics to cut power
usage by a staggering 25 percent. And in a ground-breaking £24-million project,
the city of Glasgow this
year will develop an integrated city dashboard and MyGlasgow public
window to improve the city’s efficiency exponentially and provide a model for
the rest of the UK, and the world.
3. More jobs
To make the most of your data, you need the
right people—data scientists—inside your local government and businesses, ready
to turn mountains of data into actionable insights. These are new, highly
skilled jobs that pay well—a great opportunity for cities to attract educated
citizens to join their workforces. Gartner thinks as many as 4
data scientists may be needed, just in the next three years.
Today’s technologies also can empower employees
to become super-data-users who are able to correlate data in new and
inspiring ways. Take Microsoft’s Darrell Smith, for example. As Director of
Facilities and Energy, he donned a data scientist hat and spearheaded the Energy
Smart Buildings project
at our 125-building headquarters, slashing energy consumption, maintenance
time, and millions of dollars in costs. Just imagine what a city full of
these super-users could accomplish.
5. Citizen participants
I see a future full of opportunities for the
world’s citizens to participate in society in interesting new ways. Already we
can do things like share
our health information to improve flu virus tracking and volunteer to
keep fire hydrants clear of snow.
more than 10,000 sensors were installed, the 180,000 residents are enjoying
faster city services, and new apps help them
participate more fully in governing their community.
I’ve heard that each and every day we create
2.5 quintillion bytes of data on Earth and that 90 percent of the data in the
world today has been created in the past two years. That tells me that Big Data
is just going to get bigger. Clearly, this is data’s big moment. But more
importantly, it’s your big opportunity to get your city on board, to use Big Data
wisely to serve the citizens of your present and future city.
comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Or
e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.