How can cities monetize their data?


Posted on: November 28, 2019 by KJ Chugh

Data is considered the new oil. But for Smart Cities, data is the rocket fuel for Smart City transformation!

The focus on a connected infrastructure enables city agencies to gather data from sensors installed in various applications. With an average technology budget less than 2% of a city’s budget, city leaders have to look for opportunities to monetize data to enable and scale Smart City applications. To extract the full value of data, however, city administrators need to have a structured approach to monetization.

Firstly, every device administrated by city agencies is a potential source of data. Data can be aggregated from multiple sources such as data from sensors on a light pole, weather sensors, water, and electric AMI, public safety video data, etc.

Secondly, data should be easily accessible to have end-users such as businesses and startups to monetize the data. Aggregated data should be available with open APIs to integrate with end-user applications.

Here are some ways cities are monetizing their data:

  • Data Exchange: This is a marketplace where the private sector can access raw, analytics-based data from various sources Users have multi-tiered access approaches that vary with price points. Copenhagen City Data Exchange is an example of a data marketplace. Another example is the Smart Columbus Integrated Data Exchange (IDE). The Smart Columbus IDE was launched from one of the projects originating from a $40M federal transportation grant in the Smart City Challenge. The city provides s multiple datasets. 
  • City Sensors: Cities today have various data sets available from city sensors. For example, there are separate data sets for lighting, mobility, weather, and public safety. As individual data sets, this information is not as valuable as combined data sets. Rather than making data sets available for simply browsing, cities can combine these datasets into meaningful applications such as ITS (Integrated Transportation Services) by combining mobility information from traffic lights, video data from street light cameras, and weather data to determine multi-modal transportation options for public transportation modes. The new data that is analyzed and developed with multiple combined datasets can now be monetized
  • Smart Parking Meters: Smart parking meter and data applications provide opportunities for direct revenue streams. Cities can develop dynamic pricing for parking meters for higher availability and increased revenues. Cities with public parking lots have information regarding parking ticket data. Towing companies would be interested in purchasing data that showcases parking lots with higher parking tickets
  • Fleet Management: Cities own fleet vehicles that drive through city streets. By placing IoT sensors and cameras in the vehicle, video data will help to drive Intelligent Traffic solutions. The data from vehicle sensors give real-time information on traffic congestion, stalled vehicles, and non-functioning street lights. In addition, video analytics from a fleet vehicle can deliver information on potholes that are slowing down traffic. This information is vital for companies with traffic maps that inform commuters on hazards
  • DOTs: Departments of Transportation have access to city highways and streets. By placing weather monitoring systems and cameras on these roads, data from theses sensors can be monetized to navigation-based firms. Information such as fog and humidity can affect traffic. By enabling real-time data to private companies, navigation-based firms can deliver more accurate information to customers.

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About KJ Chugh

Head of Smart Cities


KJ Chugh is the Head of Smart Cities for Atos North America. He and his team are relentlessly focused on efforts helping clients with smart city strategies, integrating technologies to benefit users and service providers, and making cities resilient and sustainable with a high livability experience. Prior to Atos, KJ led Nokia’s Smart Cities Business Development practice. Prior to Nokia, KJ managed smart cities strategy engagements for global clients at PwC Consulting where he assisted city governments create smart city strategy and blueprints. KJ has more than 12 years in telecommunications working at AT&T, Motorola and Broadcom Semiconductors. He has an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and master’s and bachelor’s in electrical engineering from University of Arizona.
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