5 Ways Cities Are Using Big Data

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. Emphasis here on the word few — projects like these are popping up nearly every day in different cities. And as more information becomes public, the potential for these increases significantly. Any cool ones we missed? Share your favorites with us in the comments below. And check out Code for America to see which projects are happening in cities near you. 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.

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