In Cork, open data is key to smart region success

Cork, a university city in southwest Ireland, is on its way to positioning itself as a “World-Class Smart Region,” building on its existing assets to achieve a reputation as a great place to live, work, visit and invest. Part of a collaboration between local governments and research organisations, the Cork Smart Gateway is a smart agenda that is developing solutions for the region, with a focus on everything from energy conservation to open data. The Smart Gateway will serve as an intersection between public infrastructure and public service provision, with top-notch technology solutions that allow everyone to be part of the region’s decision-making process. Let’s hone in on one project, in particular, open data, and how these smart initiatives are benefitting the citizens of Cork.— Philippe Leonard


A well-connected city

Transparency and accountability initially fuelled the open data movement, but now public bodies, citizens and businesses are using open data as a way to provide practical information and services, from real time car park space information to real time information on river water levels. In the past two years alone, 90 percent of the world’s data was created, and by 2020, it’s estimated that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. What’s even more surprising is that experts predict the number of devices connected, such as smart meters and intelligent lighting, will outnumber the people who are using them.

For cities like Cork, access to “official, open format non-personal data” puts power in the hands of citizens, allowing them to take a more active role in the community in terms of decision-making. “Openness and transparency is a key government priority. Opening up government data will empower citizens, foster innovation and reform public services. This strategy aims at fostering an ecosystem that will enable Ireland to become a leader in Open Data,” explained Patrick O’Donovan TD, Minister of State for Open Government and eGovernment, at the launch of the national Open Data Strategy for 2017-2022.

Citizens in Cork can already benefit from technology such as maps of real time transformation information, which feature the number of available public bikes for hire, as well as train and bus times. While this technology provides a more connected and increased quality of life, these advancements may also come at a risk. As data is integrated into applications and services, smart cities need to also be aware of the security risks open data could pose and put the right measures in place to protect the city—and citizens—from potential cyberattacks