To what extent is it important to get familiar with our environment?
If we think about how the world surrounding us has changed throughout the years, it is not so unreasonable that, while walking to work, we might encounter some new little shops, restaurants, or gas stations we had never noticed before. Likewise, how many times did we wander about for hours just to find green spaces for a run? And the only one we noticed was even more polluted than other urban areas!
Citizens are not always properly informed about the evolution of the places they live in. And that is why it would be crucial for people to be constantly up-to-date with accurate information of the neighborhood they have chosen or are going to choose.
(Image source: London Evening Standard)
London is a neat evidence of how transparency in providing data is basic in order to succeed as a Smart City. The GLA’s London Datastore, for instance, is a public platform of datasets revealing updated figures on the main services offered by the town, in addition to population’s lifestyle and environmental risks. These data are then made more easily accessible to the community through the London Dashboard.
The importance of dispensing free information can be also proved by the integration of maps, which constitute an efficient means of geolocation. Consulting a map where it’s easy to find all the services you need as close as possible can be significant in the search for a location.
(Image source: Smart London Plan)
The Global Open Data Index, published by Open Knowledge in 2013, is another useful tool for data retrieval: it showcases a rank of different countries in the world with scores based on openness and availability of data attributes such as transport timetables and national statistics.
As it was stated, making open data available and easily findable online not only represented a success for US cities but favoured apps makers and civic hackers too. Lauren Reid, a spokesperson at Code for America, reported according to Government Technology: “The more data we have, the better picture we have of the open data landscape.”
That is, on the whole, what Place I Live puts the biggest effort into: fostering a new awareness of the environment by providing free information, in order to support citizens willing to choose the best place they can live.
The outcome is soon explained. The website’s homepage offers visitors the chance to type address of their interest, displaying an overview of neighborhood parameters’ evaluation and a Life Quality Index calculated for every point on the map.
The research of the nearest medical institutions, schools or ATMs thus gets immediate and clear, as well as the survey about community’s generic information. Moreover, data’s reliability and accessibility are constantly examined by a strong team of professionals with high competence in data analysis, mapping, IT architecture and global markets.
For the moment the company’s work is focused on London, Berlin, Chicago, San Francisco and New York, while higher goals to reach include more than 200 cities.
US Open Data Census finally saw San Francisco’s highest score achievement as a proof of the city’s labour in putting technological expertise at everyone’s disposal, along with the task of fulfilling users’ needs through meticulous selections of datasets. This challenge seems to be successfully overcome by San Francisco’s new investment, partnering with the University of Chicago, in a data analytics dashboard on sustainability performance statistics named Sustainable Systems Framework, which is expected to be released in beta version by the the end of 2015’s first quarter.
(Image source: Code for America)
Another remarkable collaboration in Open Data’s spread comes from the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) of the University College London (UCL); Oliver O’Brien, researcher at UCL Department of Geography and software developer at the CASA, is indeed one of the contributors to this cause.
Among his products, an interesting accomplishment is London’s CityDashboard, a real-time reports’ control panel in terms of spatial data. The web page also allows to visualize the whole data translated into a simplified map and to look at other UK cities’ dashboards.
Plus, his Bike Share Map is a live global view to bicycle sharing systems in over a hundred towns around the world, since bike sharing has recently drawn a greater public attention as an original form of transportation, in Europe and China above all.
O’Brien’s collaboration with James Cheshire, Lecturer at UCL CASA, furthermore gave life to a groundbreaking project called DataShine, aimed to develop the use of large and open datasets within the social science community through new means of data’s visualisation, starting from a mapping platform with 2011 Census data, followed by maps of individual census tables and the new Travel to Work Flows table.
(Image source: Suprageography)