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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

Making the most of City Data

A smart city is one that puts people at the centre of development, incorporates Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in urban management and uses these elements as tools to stimulate the formation of an efficient government that includes processes of collaborative planning and citizen participation. These are some of the ways smart cities implement open data policies and citizen participation through technology to improve the quality of life and government effectiveness.

Digital government

In 2015, the public administration of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, started the Data Rio project, which provides access to the database with 15,000 information files generated by the municipality to promote the development of applications and projects that can help to improve the quality of life for citizens.


This initiative is part of the Carioca Digital project, a web portal that aims to bring the municipality to the homes. Through this portal, the citizen has access to services such as Central 1746, where he can consult his requests, the course of the orders and open new enquiries. The centre operates 24 hours a day, with a capacity to handle up to 300 simultaneous calls and 600,000 requests a month.


In San Francisco, open data, and data analysis prevent deaths during hot flashes. San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) has created an open, interactive map to promote planning for heat waves.

This map allows decision-makers to see the degree of vulnerability of the population of each area of the city according to the effects of extreme heat. The index on the map also compares, in addition to temperature, 21 other variables such as the physiology of the inhabitants, the infrastructure of the different neighborhoods and air quality, among other factors that allow the city administrators to anticipate the risks and take the necessary measures before that the extreme heat reaches the city.

Citizen participation

In Tel Aviv, the “Digi-Tel” platform has allowed for the digitalisation of public services, it combines the use of a smart card or digital ID, a mobile application, SMS, email services and a web portal to deliver better services to citizens.

Tel-Aviv has public and free Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the city, making it easy to use the platform. Through it, citizens can: access information relevant to their daily lives, receive alerts according to their location and interest, interact with public managers and notify them of any problems, access public services and receive discounts at cultural events.

Waste management

In Santander, Spain, one of the most automated services is the selective collection of solid waste. Public collectors report when they are full, optimising the logistics of the collection, monitoring and unified management of operations. The technology of this project includes sensors in the rubbish bins that measure the volume, humidity, smell and the emission of gases. Citizens also have a major role within the initiative because through a mobile application they can alert the authorities of areas needing care and cleanliness.

These projects show how data can be used in many different ways by cities in order to deliver better services for citizens and to keep them safer in times of potential disaster. Cities across the world should be looking at their data as a resource that can be utilised to create a smarter and more sustainable future.


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