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  • Thank you. Good afternoon.

  • Thank you for that introduction.

  • Today, I would like to talk to you

  • about why I believe that big data is good data.

  • And I am going to explain why I think that

  • by talking through another passion of mine, which is cities.

  • Some of you may already be aware,

  • but in 2008, we passed an important tipping point globally

  • whereby now more people live in cities

  • than they do in rural environments across the world.

  • And that trend is set to continue.

  • We have millions of people moving into cities across the world.

  • So that, by the time a majority of this audience is retirement age,

  • 70% of the world's population will live in cities.

  • Cities are also proving slightly problematic.

  • They are the cornerstones of consumption.

  • They take up just 3% of the world's land surface area,

  • and yet they are responsible for 75% of global resource consumption.

  • So when we're thinking about sustainability,

  • that battle will either be won

  • or indeed lost, in our cities.

  • Thirdly, cities are proving to be more powerful than ever.

  • We are seeing mayors to become pragmatic global leaders

  • willing to take on issues that nation states are struggling with.

  • They're also willing to collaborate, to come together,

  • and the compact of mayors at the recent UN Climate Summit in September

  • was testament to this.

  • So whilst we have this rise of the city

  • with all its challenges, and its opportunities,

  • we also have within the same generation an incredible shift,

  • and that is the digital revolution.

  • The Internet has transformed our lives.

  • It's funny--

  • When I think back to a time when I was home after school,

  • and a gentleman came to the door, a salesman,

  • and he was selling encyclopedias.

  • And these were physical books

  • that you would buy, and you would have on your bookshelf,

  • and you would refer to them when you were doing your homework.

  • (Laughter) and it's like-- It's life before Google!

  • it feels like an eon ago.

  • but, you know, I don't consider myself to be that old.

  • And this is not just about how the Internet has also transformed

  • the way we search for information, the way we educate ourselves.

  • This is also about the fact that all manner of appliances and devices

  • are increasingly online, increasingly connected,

  • to the point that by next year,

  • there will be double the number of devices online

  • than there are people on the planet.

  • And each of these devices,

  • these tiny sensors, these smart TVs, these connected cars,

  • they are each creating a tiny, continuous vapor trail.

  • And it's the aggregation of these vapor trails into a common place

  • which creates the big, a big data.

  • 90% of the data that exist today

  • did not exit 3 years ago.

  • Which is crazy, right?

  • And so, when we are thinking about

  • we have the rise of the city, and we have the explosion of big data,

  • it's when you bring these two things together,

  • it's at this point of convergence I think things get really interesting.

  • And that's the exact field of work that I am in.

  • So in the context of the city,

  • you have these millions of data streams being generated,

  • New York generates a terabyte of data a day.

  • This data is coming from traffic lights,

  • from energy meters, from people's mobile phones,

  • and its the ability to bring together these data streams

  • that allows you to better sense the city.

  • To better understand its metabolism in real time.

  • To better match supply with demand for resources.

  • And it's my belief that this is the tool

  • that we use to better design and run our cities in the future,

  • to secure the future of prosperity.

  • So perhaps I could give you a couple of examples.

  • The first example is in US cities,

  • and in the context of crime.

  • The use of acoustic sensors which are calibrated to detect gun shots

  • have shown that, while people assume that people would report a gun shot heard

  • around 80% of the time it was heard,

  • the reality was actually people only reported it around 10% of the time.

  • So imagine this asset class

  • to be able to understand in which neighborhoods,

  • at which times of the night or day these things were occurring

  • helps the police to deploy precious resources.

  • A second, completely different example, and this time it's really interesting,

  • because they're using the public to actually help gather their big data set

  • so in the case of Amsterdam,

  • they are actually providing citizens with small umbrellas

  • which have the ability to detect the level of rain fall at any given time.

  • And combined with a small app on citizen's phones,

  • they are then becoming the crowdsource sensing

  • that enables the city to understand the real-time propensity for flood risk.

  • That's just two good data examples.

  • I think if we took a step back,

  • and perhaps if I'd asked you when you walked into the auditorium this afternoon,

  • what do you think of, when you think of big data?

  • I think a majority of people

  • would have connotations of Google or Facebook.

  • We might presume this new commodity is something

  • that requires a complex machinery to refine it,

  • and is something that will remain under the auspices

  • of large private sector players, maybe a bit like oil.

  • Don't get me wrong, I think companies like Google and Facebook

  • have a role to play in this future economy,

  • but I would like to pose it

  • that it's our cities that stand to benefit the most.

  • But that's if we get the right mindset,

  • and critically, it's if we get

  • the public and private sector to working together effectively.

  • This first came into my consciousness around three years ago.

  • I was working with the city of Copenhagen,

  • and we were starting, as we do,

  • to unpack the challenges of the city and figure out how we could solve them.

  • And so, one area that Copenhageners are interested in helping, in solving

  • is they want to reduce the energy spend at the municipal building stock.

  • They own over 1,000 buildings across the city,

  • and they want to reduce their energy expenditure

  • and the emissions that go with it.

  • A second area they are looking to improve is

  • they want to be able to make it easier for people to find a car parking space

  • when they arrive in the city center

  • to stop them from driving around looking for a car parking spot,

  • and reducing local air quality causing emissions.

  • And as we dug into this problem, it became clear

  • that the city had a really good grasp on the problem from their side.

  • So they understood where the municipal parking spaces were,

  • and how they were used.

  • They understood where their buildings were,

  • what size they were, what their uses were.

  • But they didn't have an important piece of the puzzle

  • which was how were the private garages within the city used,

  • and how does their energy spend,

  • for example, compare with other buildings of similar size?

  • Because that's held by The Utility Company.

  • And you really need to bring together these two parts of the puzzle

  • to be able to have a holistic view on urban challenges.

  • But here's the tricky bit

  • which is how do you get the private sector to be involved?

  • What is their incentive?

  • Ultimately, there is a cost affiliated with capturing these data streams,

  • with storing them, with providing them to a common platform for a common good.

  • And they are private, they have shareholders,

  • they need to show financial returns and be remunerated.

  • And that's when we came across the idea of the urban information marketplace.

  • The urban information marketplace

  • is the bringing together of public and private data

  • into a common platform

  • which digital entrepreneurs can then subscribe to

  • to access data streams, to create innovative apps and services,

  • to make cities more effective.

  • And this could be open data,

  • public data which has already been paid for through taxation,

  • or it could be proprietary data streams gathered by the private sector

  • for which there is a value attributed.

  • And suddenly, you have got a sustainable business model,

  • and suddenly, it's not just the public sector trying to fix the public sector.

  • A whole pool of innovators are invited to this problem solving.

  • So why, isn't this coming through faster?

  • I think, intuitively,

  • a lot of people would agree that this seems like a good concept,

  • but I think there are three reasons why this isn't coming through faster.

  • Firstly,

  • I think this is related to the fact

  • that this is technically complex.

  • There are millions of data streams that need to come together,

  • and they need to be organized, they need to be anonymized,

  • they need to be applied the appropriate digital rights,

  • and offered out appropriately.

  • And that is technically complex, but I think possible.

  • Secondly, the public sector needs to lead.

  • If this is going to be successful,