Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Open Data Initiative and its Application for Strengthening Cities’ Resilience

Open Data is one of the buzzwords that appears in the discussions about e-government. The website “opendefinition.org” provides the following definition: “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.” According to a recent article published in the British Guardian, “Around a fifth of the world’s national governments have launched data portals collating information on everything from public spending to land ownership.” While many developed nations have begun to provide platforms for the sharing of their data, the developing world is still lagging behind and organizations such as the Word Bank have begun programs to support open data initiatives in developing countries.
At the same time, Open Data by itself does not solve any of the pressing issues that are faced by cities. It is the active use of the provided data that has the potential to provide benefits to the individual citizen and the society as a whole. The data provided through an open data platform can be either of direct use, or can serve as the foundation for a range of new applications. Recently, Citynet, in collaboration with Microsoft and a number of local partners, launched a program called CityApp, in which young programmers came up with mobile solutions to tackle the most pressing issues faced by Citynet’s member cities. The solutions that were the outcome of the first event held in Kathmandu, Nepal, are good examples of products and services that can use the open data to support urban development.
Cities, especially in developing countries face a number of problems ranging from a lack of infrastructure to financial and social problems. One main issue that has recently been highlighted is the need for an increased resilience of cities in light of natural and other catastrophes. An increasing number of initiatives such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities Program” or UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign, in which Citynet is a longstanding partner, aim to improve the resilience of Cities by sharing concepts and ideas and building up local capacities in an effort to save lives and prevent unforeseen events from further impairing the developmental process of the cities. Resilience is thus identified as one of the key targets which on one hand is applicable to many cities and on the other hand has large scale implications, making it a high priority, potentially benefitting a rapid implementation.
Developing countries have immense resources and potential, are lagging behind in management perspective. The open data initiative opens the platform for diverse participation of stakeholders to create the new opportunity to solve the problem residing in different sectors. Wide and open participation to use publicly available data by researcher, journalist, academia, private institutions and individuals have possibility to come with new analysis, solution to solve the existing problem. As we see, the data management in developing countries are most severely neglected even though it opens new opportunity for the city development with new perspective to change the context. On the other hand, the supply demand side analysis, addressing the problems like waste management, traffic management so on can be dealt with the open participation and calculation of damages, effective rescuing and resilience would be possible effectively in the emergencies like natural disaster such as earthquake.
This project proposal tries to outline an open data initiative that is scalable and can implemented in cities that do not have started to think about open data and who might be lacking the resources and capabilities to start outright large-scale initiatives. Highlighting the role that the data can play in products and services beneficial to the city and its inhabitants, the proposal covers the use of the data to increase a city’s resilience by providing localized informations to increase the awareness of disaster preparedness. This information can consist of local emergency guidelines, location of various emergency services, contact information, etc.
By combining work on open data and resilience, two important focus areas for city development and organizations like Citynet, the authors hope to contribute to the development process in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Identify obstacles and limitations to the implementation of open data initiatives in cities in developing countries
  • Identify suitable examples of successful open data initiatives at the city level
  • Based on the above mentioned points, develop a blueprint that will help cities to start their own open data initiatives. This includes example, prototypes, checklists, etc.
  • Investigate and identify data sets that will help to increase the resilience of city population
  • Develop a framework for the use of said data in a platform (web, app, text message based)
  • Prototype the disaster resilience awareness platform
  • Disseminate the results in the form of a report and website to Citynet’s member cities
  • Establish the framework for cooperation between local government, academia, business farm and individual and non-cooperative third party
  • Develop an Open data initiative framework and platform for cities that can be extended to national open data platform
  • Identify the synergies and innovative and economic opportunities to obtain added values ofsystem, information.
  • Prototyping Sensor based network and integrate it Open data platform
  • Increase awareness of open data and related issues
Government agencies and some other research institute who are working on the public concerns own many information about city which can be useful for the purpose of city management and resilience in various disastrous condition. Information containing panel data of climatic condition, supply chain of electricity, water, sanitation, food security and transportation, immigrants and tourism information andmany more. These information contain the condition, capacity, expected life expectancy of theinfrastructure, and many more which can be useful for the management of city. For example in the case of the climatic information, government or research institute own the climatic sensor network of city and can be used forecasting weather for different purposes. For the disaster alert system, the infrastructure aging information, climatic forecasting, and emergency evacuation plan can be integrated to minimize the loss of damages. Thus, identifying the data which can be open to the public that could be helpful for the upcoming city. Creating the platform that havecapability to integrate all such information and also have the live/real time update facility, which makes the researcher, planner to cope with the appropriate problems and give the right solution to the government. Such platform integrated with the sensor network which regularly receives the ambient information andanalyses to provide the relevant information to the public so that they can deal with the problem before the things become worse.
Policy Initiatives:
Before starting to dig into the open data initiatives, there should be some working policy framework to make it effective initiatives even though it is small scale. The government/public data are supposed to useful to any business firm, personnel and also other agencies but also harmful if not properly managed and organized in order taking proper accounting like security/privacy issues. Thus, we will set the basic data policy to incorporate with the concerned city and identify the datasets to be opened by designating the roles to the concerned stake holders.
Most of the cities from the developing countries do not have all their data information in digital format which need to be digitized in order to be available all data in open data portal, thus, it needs to be digitized and put in the proper format. The format will be widely acceptable and can be accessible from the third party application. The central portal provides the specific format for the specific data category and the concerned agencies or personnel put their data in the mentioned format. In long run perspective the agency portal will be integrated into the open data portal so that the extra resources to store the data will be minimized and will be updated automatically. The digitization of data will be in the priority basis such as emergency services will be given in high priority following other public concerned services; some of the identified services are: Emergency service information and their details, public service information and citizen charters; performance metrics, licensing and permit information, procurement and contract information etc.
Digitization will be done considering the following
  • Collecting service information: Emergency Service information, and other service information which government provides; this also includes private services related to public concern.
  • Infrastructure information: Age of Building, used materials, furnishing, state of electricity, gas etc. which is considered to be more vulnerable for risk.
  • Location information: traffic condition, road access, public places, dwellers in that area, etc.
  • Open Space information:
  • Rescue Team and support group: Police, social clubs/groups, Red cross, hospital etc.
  • Mass gathering places: School, colleges, Hospital, fun park, business complex, sport stadium, etc.
Sensor Network:
Different agencies are running their own network, for example, the metrological department run their weather sensor network; transport department runs the traffic sensor network; security department runs the surveillance network; land revenue department runs their own network whose one port can be integrated to input the open data portal so that every predefined information will be publicly available through the open data portal without burdening the main system overhead. On the other hand, for the specific personnel tracking system for the probable disaster we can categorize the different kind of sensors for the different purposes such as for mass transportation, for person, for buildings etc. To track and know the condition of the vehicle we can put the sensor on every vehicle so that it can repeatedly sends the condition of the vehicle location and information about person inside it if it is reported as missing or accident. Similarly, the building sensors reports the conditions like person living inside, wreckage-crack, aging of building, location, firing, flooding, and other useful information which can be useful for rescuing person or minimizing the damage on it. Such sensors are designed to send their data information to the network through where the information transmitted and distributed to the center server.
The system will be completed in four phases: first phase consists of the socioeconomic study of the purposed site, survey, field visit and discussion with the corresponding stakeholders. In second phase, identifying the requirements and possible project initiation for building the open data platform, in third phase digitization of existing data and updating it into the open-data repository server and finally deploying the sensor network in priority basis identifying the important first.
Deploying Sensor Network: 
Sensor network for transportation, public places, vulnerable places, and in building/housing/complex were deployed and then connected to the system. While deploying the sensor network, priority based category will be made based on prior necessity after consultation with city government. Some emergency systems are fire, flood, structural wreckage, earthquake, typhoon and etc. 
Sensor network for transportation, public places, vulnerable places, and in building/housing/complex were deployed and then connected to the system. While deploying the sensor network, priority based category will be made based on prior necessity after consultation with city government. Some emergency systems are fire, flood, structural wreckage, earthquake, typhoon and etc.
Fire sensor will be installed in the building and the sensor will have the features to send the alarm message to nearest firefighter department. The fire fighter department consist of the all necessary system and tools to deal with it and those system will be integrated with the GIS based spatial navigation system and also the real time traffic update system so that the rescue team can deal with it effectively. When the system alarmed for fire from specific location then it checks the availability of the nearby rescue team, provide necessary information of location (for example whether it has risk to flow other area or not, building information etc.). And it also updates this information to the open data portal.
Since, this project is a prototype and will consist of some demo information of certain services, information for all regulation related to city resilience and integration of sensor (the sensor devices will have network interface so that it can directly incorporates with this plat form). In demo version we will update all information in live so that concerned stake holder will understands the necessity of this projects in the real city resilience issues.

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