Developing sustainable urban lifestyle requires well-designed data strategies

Understanding data has become a hot topic during the recent years – and no wonder. To be able to create sustainable solutions for clean and safe environment, data plays a crucial role. But the truth is, that there is no use to create data architectures and end user services, if you are not ready to lead and nurture common culture and practices around data. Without common understanding, the structures and services are frail, and often left unused.

Building a data culture requires time and trust. In Smart Otaniemi we believe, that trust is gained by concrete actions. We are building testbeds and experimenting our ideas in practical use cases, that offer the participants firsthand knowledge as well as opportunities to influence the common culture.

Innovation ecosystem, with its diverse data solutions and sources, offers an excellent starting point for the collaborative data strategy work. The algorithms developed by VTT and other ecosystem partners, and the lessons learned from various data sources accumulated over several years, create an excellent base for further development, as for cloud-based services enable an easy way to set up experimental environments and share data with companies and partners.

In Smart Otaniemi we have recognized that there are at least three different levels of co-operation in data strategy implementation. In the first level, companies and partners co-operate fairly independently in research projects. There are multiple warehouses or on-premise solutions mixed with cloud-based solutions. Co-operation can be very fruitful, but it takes more time and effort to collect and combine the data. Also shared monitoring and continuous data quality assessment is missing.

In the second level, partners and participant are collaborating in a network and following joint processes. There are common, compatible, and trustworthy cloud-based data collection and sharing solutions. Shared understanding based on a common contract builds a good foundation for co-creation. Continuity of the data, data quality and monitoring are agreed upon in the network.

Third level of cooperation can be described as a professional data ecosystem. There is a joint and agile data portfolio and ways of working. Data is in different data spaces and can be viewed and visualized for example with a common data source catalogue including metadata and even batches of data itself. Common contracts, the use of joint rulebooks, and shared understanding are the basis of fair and trustworthy data sharing. The data ecosystem can be centrally optimized and serve cost-efficient end-user services. Partners and companies can control and have sovereignty over their data.

All levels of data strategy are boosting cooperation and bringing business opportunities for partners and companies. However, on the third level, it’s much easier for new businesses to join the community and work in the testbed surroundings. The third level also brings the possibility of data economy enhancements and monetization of the data, as well as new solutions built on top of data. Experimenting can start early on, and all levels support that.

The City of Espoo, Aalto University and VTT are now defining the frameworks for Smart Otaniemi development environment. Within this joint effort, Smart Otaniemi data architecture will be refined. Covering data from different use cases in mobility, urban development, built environment, energy, and circular economy, it provides a fertile ground for co-creation of sustainable urban solutions. We believe that the smartest sustainable services and business models have not yet seen the daylight. With help of the top-edge technology, bright-minded people, and enriched data, it is possible to build the most impactful and future-proof business cases.

Of the Smart Otaniemi testbeds, furthest in planning and data collection is the Zero Emission Mobility Hub – or ZEM Hub, as we like to call it. In ZEM Hub data will be collected from the electronic vehicle charging poles around the area of Otaniemi and other locations in Espoo. Testing can involve a wide range of actors, from the charging infrastructure builders to shared cars and providers of payment solutions, to name a few. The data strategy lives and evolves with the use cases.

We are now in the phase of calling for great companies, people, and developers in the cities to join in co-creation of use cases for sustainable success stories. Stay tuned for more information on our actions!