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Study provides overview of urban data platforms

News from July 05, 2021

Smart cities – cities that become more efficient, technologically advanced and greener with the help of information and communication technologies (ICT) – have emerged as a way to solve the most pressing urban challenges and thus enable sustainable urban development. With the study “An overview of urban data platforms – An evaluation according to design principles of DIN SPEC 91357”, scientists from Fraunhofer FOKUS now present an overview of urban data platforms for smart cities.

The evaluation intends to pave the way for open, flexible and vendor-lock-in-free ecosystems. The first step was to develop a methodology for obtaining data and information on relevant urban platforms. The researchers defined evaluation criteria for urban platforms and solutions intending to create open interoperable and vendor-lock-in-free urban ICT ecosystems. These criteria were expanded on the basis of DIN SPEC 91357. The identification of critical urban platforms on the smart city market and an associated data acquisition followed. Finally, the evaluation criteria were applied to the data and information, and the results were visually presented and discussed.

The study examined 58 urban data platforms. In summary, it can be said that a wide variety of solutions for smart city platforms exist, which often originated in specific domains (e.g., energy, industrial automation, etc.) and were subsequently transferred to the smart city market. In this context, the scope of documentation of the analyzed platforms differs significantly. The majority have comprehensive documentation, but some solutions have no or only minimally open and transparent documentation. A small but considerable proportion is available as open-source platforms. Here, the trend can be observed that proprietary platform providers offer unique open-source versions of their solutions, thereby ensuring qualitative and proven software platforms on the market that simultaneously provide a high degree of openness.

The lack of transparency in the quality and stability of the analyzed solutions and the frequent absence of a transparent security concept was identified as a significant problem with the current platforms. In addition, it is often unclear in which way the requirements of the GDPR/DSGVO are addressed. All of these aspects can be attributed, among other things, to the fact that there are currently no structures for the certification and approval of open urban platforms, which means that there is no independent testing and verification of essential properties. Nevertheless, there is strong growth potential for the market of smart city platforms.