European cities open up treasure chests of data to stimulate innovation


However, Frost & Sullivan survey finds limited progress towards commercialisation of public sector information

European cities are leveraging their data sources in order to address high-priority objectives: to reduce traffic congestion, improve energy efficiency, engage citizens, and present government as accessible and accountable. However, the approach today is typically project-based. More integration across organisational silos will be needed to achieve their longer-term goals such as economic growth and development of an indigenous tech sector.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “Real-Time Cities Survey” (, finds that municipalities aim to do much more than simply make existing information and transactions accessible online. They are embracing open innovation and experimenting with advanced applications such as 3D mapping and Virtual Reality (VR) to reduce the cost of urban planning functions.

The survey asked leading real-time cities about their data-centric strategies and initiatives. Responses from 27 cities in East and West Europe are represented in a Heat Map that highlights longer-term progress towards commercialisation.

For complimentary access to more information on this research, please visit:

Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland.

“Public sector information (PSI) is being published on open portals and used internally to improve the efficiency of public sector services,” says Principal Analyst for Information & Communication Technologies Europe, Sheridan Nye. “Cities are also collaborating with academic partners and ICT vendors to build governance best practice into data transactions. This is the necessary foundation for commercialisation of data-enabled services in the near future.”

In a related report, “Open Data Strategies of Real-time Cities” (, Frost & Sullivan profiles four leading European cities – Milton Keynes, Grand Lyon, Helsinki and Dublin.

Each sees an opportunity to stimulate economic growth by opening up their substantial sources of data to digital services innovators. In return, applications developers and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) suppliers benefit from access to the city as a live test bed, both for R&D and as a high-profile, proof of concept.

“Cities are saying they want suppliers to engage with local priorities rather than promote one-size-fits-all, end-to-end solutions,” says Nye. “However, the danger is that the market fragments and vendors struggle to build the economies of scale.”

Longer term, multiple opportunities exist for vendors as cities prepare to integrate ICT into core operations. “Early investors can get a head-start in developing these data-centric solutions to try to become the Google of real-time cities,” adds Nye. “As projects reach the end of their funding, typically 3 to 5 years, managed services providers will tender for a lucrative and wide-ranging role that will be central to the city’s development.”

Frost & Sullivan’s Real-Time Cities Survey addresses the following questions to respondents:

  •    What are the goals of real-time city initiatives?
  •    How are cities using big or open data to improve public service delivery?
  •    Who are the providers and consumers of data?
  •    How are cities adopting open source software?
  •    How are cities financing their digital services projects?
  •    How are cities collaborating?
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