“Scotland’s 8th city – the smart city” and open data

March 9, 2017

Ian Watt, Digital Transformation Manager, Aberdeen City Council.

A key pillar the Scottish Cities Alliance’s “Scotland’s 8th City – the Smart City” ERDF Programme, will see the Scottish cities work collaboratively to create data publication platforms with the introduction of data analytics that will allow cities to make evidence based decisions in order to improve services and delivery.

Open data is a key part of this and is the publication of all non-personal and non-commercially sensitive data held by organisations as an online asset that can, according to the Open Knowledge Foundation, “be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose”.

Open data cannot be seen in isolation: it originates in back-end systems and needs processes and underpinning standards to ensure that it is published in a usable fashion.

The project will see the Scottish Cities sharing guidance on standards and processes. Making the publication of open data from all services the norm will be not be easy for anyone, but by sharing how we each do that, we can make it easier for others.

Open data needs to be made available somewhere on the web – e.g. on a dedicated platform – and to be searchable and discoverable. The Scottish cities will share what we do and will encourage the adoption of common standards and approaches to encourage consistency across councils. This will aid the linking of data sets across authorities, and at a national level.

Going beyond publication, the true value of open data will be realised in its re-use and in the innovative uses to which it is put. The SCA partners will work to develop city-region open data eco-systems where the public, third and private sectors collaborate to encourage data use, economic stimulation and creative approaches to solving civic challenges.

The Alliance also look at common developments in all seven authority areas – collaborating across organisational or geographic boundaries – to develop a Scottish open data eco-system which creates the conditions for SMEs to innovate at scale across multiple city regions.

With this project and so many more exciting digital initiatives across the public sector taking place in Scotland, 2017 promises to be a very exciting year.