NquiringMinds was selected in November 2013 with 5 other SME companies to produce a study to assess the feasbility of producing an Open system to inteconnect disparate data sets within a Smart City environment.
The Open City Data Platform (OCDP) is designed to be a platform for connecting data within and between local authorities. This data connectivity is supported by open non-proprietary APIs, and underpinned by proven sustainable open source projects. These being specifically:

  • CKAN OS project, the de facto standard for local and national government open data installations with over 74 installations including gov.uk, gov.us, gov.eu, Manchester and Glasgow cities
  • Webinos OS project, which provides state of the art security, IOT sensor integration and visualisation technologies and support by over 30 organisations including Sony, Samsung, W3C, DT, BMW, Telefonica, etc.

The feasibility project set out to prove with working code, that we could combine local government open data systems with state of the art security, IOT and visualisation technology.  We found that this was not only technically achievable, but desired by the market and required by end users.
Over the past 5 months we have been working closely with over 19 organisations, all key stakeholders in local authority solutions to establish both what is needed and what is achievable. Working with Peterbourgh City Council, Hampshire County Council and Liverpool City Council specifically we have been producing real working code that integrates fully with their back end data and delivering against their operational requirements; far more than a pure paper analysis.
Our working system caters for the data full lifecycle: extracting the data, securing the data, processing the data and most importantly turning data into an application that has potentially high ROI (return on investment).The running applications include a full and diverse array of data: School catchment information; Live public transport data; Road traffic accident data; Planning applications; Salary bands; Live energy use and energy control. Our solution does not stop at producing APIs, or even dynamic visualisations, but provides a full tool chain to turn data into full self-sufficient applications.
The findings of the lifecycle of the project are substantial, a brief summary of which is:

  • Local authorities increasingly don’t own the data, subcontracting arrangements mean cross organisation secure data sharing is can be very difficult.
  • Data must be live: excel exports are not enough. Integrating with IOT systems must be supported.
  • APIs are not enough: most data portals turn into data graveyards unless application deployment is considered and good tools are provided for non-developer and developers alike.
  • Many data sources do not start ‘open’- A good solution must treat security and privacy seriously.
  • Nor does it always have to end up open; it should also consider how data can be turned into operationally useful enterprise applications that produce short turn returns and efficiencies.

Focussing on the full value chain, we have spent a lot of time working with the originating data owners (local authority subcontractors), to ensure we address the real world security and data interoperability issues that span organisational boundaries.
The OCDP project has exceed our initial aspirations. We planned on three data adaptors and delivered 28; we planned on 2 demo applications with data and have delivered over 40. Also due to the effort saving possible through embracing the CKAN platform we have delivered an “application deployment” tool not anticipated in the original planning, thereby shortening the path between data and usable application.
The benefits to a local authority looking to deploy the OCDP platform are considerable. It will benefit from lower acquisition costs through use of well supported open source elements.  It will have a toolset for extracting live data from both enterprise systems and future looking IOT sensors. It will have state of the art security that is fit for purpose for the complex data value chains that is the reality of local authorities and their subcontractors. And finally it will have a platform that can speed up application production for developers and non-developers alike. Feedback from local authorities so far is highly positive with three current installations and more planned.
If you are interested in seeing the full feasibilty study please email info@nquiringminds.com
A live demo of the OCDP platform is available on: http://test.nqminds.com/ocdp-online-demonstrator/