Eric Larson in Mashable: “New York City released more than 200 high-value data sets to the public on Monday — a way, in part, to provide more content for open-sourced mapping projects like OpenStreetMap.
It’s one of the many releases since the Local Law 11 of 2012 passed in February, which calls for more transparency of the city government’s collected data.
But it’s not just New York: Cities across the world, large and small, are utilizing big data sets — like traffic statistics, energy consumption rates and GPS mapping — to launch projects to help their respective communities.
We rounded up a few of our favorites below….
1. Seattle’s Power Consumption
The city of Seattle recently partnered with Microsoft and Accenture on a pilot project to reduce the area’s energy usage. Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud, the project will collect and analyze hundreds of data sets collected from four downtown buildings’ management systems.
With predictive analytics, then, the system will work to find out what’s working and what’s not — i.e. where energy can be used less, or not at all. The goal is to reduce power usage by 25%.
Finding parking spots — especially in big cities — is undoubtably a headache.
SpotHero is an app, for both iOS and Android devices, that tracks down parking spots in a select number of cities. How it works: Users type in an address or neighborhood (say, Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C.) and are taken to a listing of available garages and lots nearby — complete with prices and time durations.
The app tracks availability in real-time, too, so a spot is updated in the system as soon as it’s snagged.
Seven cities are currently synced with the app: Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Milwaukee and Newark, N.J.
Anyone who’s spent a winter in Boston will agree: it snows.
In January, the city’s Office of New Urban Mechanics released an app called Adopt-a-Hydrant. The program is mapped with every fire hydrant in the city proper — more than 13,000, according to a Harvard blog post — and lets residents pledge to shovel out one, or as many as they choose, in the almost inevitable event of a blizzard.
Once a pledge is made, volunteers receive a notification if their hydrant — or hydrants — become buried in snow.
Similar to Adopt-a-Hydrant, Chicago’s Adopt-a-Sidewalk app lets residents of the Windy City pledge to shovel sidewalks after snowfall. In a city just as notorious for snowstorms as Boston, it’s an effective way to ensure public spaces remain free of snow and ice — especially spaces belonging to the elderly or disabled.
If you’re unsure which part of town you’d like to “adopt,” just register on the website and browse the map — you’ll receive a pop-up notification for each street you swipe that’s still available.
5. Less Congestion for Lyon
Last year, researchers at IBM
teamed up with the city of Lyon, France (about four hours south of Paris), to build a system that helps traffic operators reduce congestion on the road
The system, called the “Decision Support System Optimizer (DSSO),” uses real-time traffic reports to detect and predict congestions. If an operator sees that a traffic jam is likely to occur, then, she/he can adjust traffic signals accordingly to keep the flow of cars moving smoothly.
It’s an especially helpful tool for emergencies — say, when an ambulance is en route to the hospital. Over time, the algorithms in the system will “learn” from its most successful recommendations, then apply that knowledge when making future predictions.”