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How data governance breaks down silos into actionable decision-making May 17, 2019 | Patti Zullo, Sr. Director, Smart City Solutions, Spectrum

It feels as though every day a city announces a new smart city initiative—to make parks safer, become greener, or make commutes shorter, to name a few. In short, they have long-term goals to become a vibrant city.

And thanks to the Internet of Things, more and more devices and sensors are creating a lot of data, helping city leaders better understand their community, the issues they face and how they can improve city operations to realize their goals.

The challenge, however, is that not all data can be easily shared among various city departments or different regional governments. Instead, data remains in its respective silo, blocking city leaders from taking a holistic view of the city’s heartbeat. What’s more, underlying departments cannot share, analyze, visualize and respond to that data to make smarter, quicker decisions.

The only way to solve this challenge is with data governance.

Why data governance?

New city data governance methods have the potential to harness an array of data, no matter where it lives or what format it exists in, to vastly improve the planning and efficiency of city services. Information about transportation, parking, lighting, waste management, energy, and more can be provided in real-time and within a single data platform. By using a well-designed, single data platform, city leaders can build an accurate picture of how their city operates and what services can be designed to meet both growing and changing needs.

The challenges?

To successfully share, analyze, visualize and respond to data, governance solutions have to overcome some challenges:

  • Multiple data sources – Cities must synthesize data from different sources, in different formats, and from different departments and private sector partners.
  • Policy requirements – Cities need to balance the ethical and commercial conflict between the providers and consumers of city data.
  • Data platform – Because the data is in different departments or in different regional governments, no universal way exists to visualize all the data so that it can be configured and shared rapidly, regardless of format.

So, what’s the solution?

Here are steps to overcome data governance challenges to drive actionable decision-making:

  1. Invest in the right platform – To maximize the interoperability between data and services, cities need to invest in platforms that use non-proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) and data formats. By making raw data available without compromising the privacy and security of citizens, cities can provide valuable information across departments and businesses, driving innovation and efficiency throughout the community.
  2. Pick the right partners – For data governance to thrive, cities need to establish the right partner and allow for the partnership between the private and public sector need to mature. To learn more about how you can ensure you choose the right partner for your smart city project, click here.
  3. Include data ownership standards in contracts – Knowing which entity owns the data is extremely important because data ownership comes with opportunity and responsibility. Cities should be sure to include “data ownership clauses” in contracts that align with the city’s requirements and expectations. This outlines the city’s view on ownership and access to data collected from their public spaces.

Break into the data

By investing in the right platform and finding the right partner, city leaders can recognize more quickly the best path forward to achieve their long-term goals to become a vibrant smart city. By using the data governance model, city and regional government leaders are able to analyze, visualize and respond to collected data in an appropriate and timely manner.

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