Urban Data Platforms to address challenges of today's cities and communities

Urban Data Platforms are at the core of the digital transformation and the basis for data-driven solutions addressing the challenges of today’s cities and communities.

The beating heart of the urban digital transformation

Urban data platforms are at the core of the digital transformation of cities and communities. It is the centrepiece for new and innovative services from a simple route-planner to complex digital twin solution. Urban Data Platforms are the beating hearts of the urban digital transformation as they connect, analyse and visualise all data from the urban fabric. From here, data can be further shared to city services or third-party providers offering seamless mobile experiences for citizens.

Cities and communities are benefitting most from Urban Data Platforms when those are ‘open’. Following the DIN definition, an open urban platform is an “urban platform that uses open standards and interfaces to guarantee compatibility and interoperability with other systems and other urban platforms.” 

Open urban data platforms enable cities and communities to: 

  • Customise the platform according to their needs
  • Avoid vendor lock-in & technology-debt
  • Share data with third parties
  • Connect services and data more easily, and
  • Provide better digital services to their citizens at lesser costs.

Urban Data Platforms across Europe

As part of the RUGGEDISED project, Rotterdam, Umeå and Glasgow developed Urban Data Platforms to tackle different challenges the cities face daily. 

The Digital City Platform in Rotterdam discloses and visualises actual use of energy as well as use over a period of time (by individual buildings as well as the whole area). Rotterdams 3-D model is connected to the platform, and together with realtime data it forms a 3D Digital Twin of the city. This 3D Digital Twin supports Rotterdam in  crowd and public space management, smart mobility, electricity and thermal grid planning and operational optimisation, energy and resource efficient waste collection and processing, and ensuring increased data is accessible for all through visualisation.

The Decision Support Platform in Umeå supports citizens and planners in short and long-term decision-making towards a fully sustainable and smart city. It visualises a wide range of data sources and several municipal departments have been adding data to the platform on a wide range of issues – from the types of trees in Umeå, to environmental data and high-resolution aerial photos.

Supporting the delivery of citizen services is one value case of the platform and it allows citizens and public officials to browse data through different visualisations (map-based, chart-based etc.). Another value is the transparency it provices in terms of sharing data.

The platform in Glasgow, named the Data-Based Decision Platform (DBDP), is integrated within wider city work with open data. The DBDP will be integrated with wider city work, to allow the city to make informed decisions around issues such as planning and road closures. The purpose is threefold: providing a means to understand the impact of an intervention through realtime visualisations; to providing a tool to combine data from different interventions and existing data within the counci, and helping non-data ‘experts’ explore the data to help with city planning, stakeholder engagement, etc

The solution explained

There are as many Open Urban Data Platforms as there are cities and communities in the European Union. Using modular building blocks based on open standards, Urban Data Platforms can be customised to the specific needs of a city or community and integrated with existing IT legacy systems.

The Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms (MIMs Plus) serve as minimal common building blocks enabling trusted and seamless flows of data between the platform, its data sources (both real-time and historical data) and the connected services.

In addition, so-called reference architectures can guide the implementation of open urban data platforms. These architectures are, in essence, logical digital frames containing the key technical components to set up urban data platforms.