Like the world it describes, the capture, processing and distribution of content in a location-based environment is constantly evolving.  The sophistication of Geospatial data is driving new applications, services and business models. Today, for many private companies, new technologies and scale effects are making geospatial data a significant and growing asset base.

The huge potential of this data lies in identifying the cases where data from across the ecosystem (public, private – both corporates and new entrants- and third sector – academia) can be harnessed to drive technological innovation, economic and social value for all parties. These cases provide incentives for all parties to work reciprocatively.

There are already a number of examples of the private and public sector collaborating on new tools and software. Shared mobility companies like Uber have made efforts to share data with cities to help with traffic management and long-term planning. The Uber Movement program publishes travel time and speed data by city. Bristol, London, Leeds, Manchester and the West Midlands are included in the program.

Data sharing can help cities and service providers truly understand and serve their citizens and stakeholders. Where these collaborations improve data-driven decision making, establish mutually beneficial relationships, and can move to a place where the shared data from multiple stakeholders is greater than the sum of its parts.

These programs need to ensure that data is aggregated and anonymized and does not undermine the trust relationship with citizens. Recent research indicates that, while 94% of UK citizens polled share their location data for scenarios including getting directions or a taxi, 60% are conscious that there can be risks related to unauthorised use. (Accenture, 2019).

However, when identifying these cases to truly unlock the value of geospatial data collaborations, we need to place greater importance on the private and public sector to focus on developing common data standards and architectures. This will be a key next step in public private data sharing.

We’re seeing some early signs of this approach being adopted. At Accenture, we have set up an Intelligent Orchestration Centre for Brazil’s National Department of Transportation Infrastructure. The centre’s architecture can ingest a range of data feeds, including social, sensor, live and historic data feeds from Waze, the public transport network, police and other sources. This view provides network behavior analytics and insights for planning, real time traffic management and services orchestration. With this we have been able to identify 1500 road incident hot-spots and the characteristics of these hot spots, to design six low cost counter measures with a potential impact of 20% reduction in road deaths.

In Los Angeles, the city has developed an open source data framework in the form of a Mobility Data Specification. This requires those providing micro mobility solutions (including scooters and bikes) to provide data on which vehicles are in use at any time, show where bikes and scooters are located to help ensure equitable distribution. This is one example of how our location data is increasingly important source of value creation for society. Data like this also helps cities plan future investment, such as EV infrastructure and public transport routes. Importantly, the specification was developed by a true ecosystem. The city convened a number of key players, including start-ups Lime and Bird, as well as the Harvard Kennedy School and other cities.

The potential for geospatial data to transform our cities and public infrastructure is huge. The willingness to collaborate in pursuit of a common goal is necessary. Getting this right requires focus on bringing together players from across the ecosystem to identify where there is rationale for reciprocity. The value from these cases can only be realised where we also establish common data standards and architectures. The momentum is building, are you ready?

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Jen Hawes-Hewitt

Managing Director – Consulting, Global Cities & Infrastructure Lead

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