Innovation in Cities – How Big Data Builds Smart Cities

Transportation and population management

Big data means that traffic jams may soon be history. Identifying patterns in congestion and using these to inform authorities is providing smart ways to manage and monitor transport in big cities.

Smart navigation solutions can continuously monitor the roads and can transport this data to a central control centre. This helps to provide live information about accidents, traffic jams and emergency services and their movements.

This data can be used to adjust routes in real-time. It can be sent live to people’s phones to help citizens see quickly what is happening and which routes are better to avoid.

Plotting data around accidents can help to identify trends and innovate by minimising the number of accidents in a given location.

Movement data can help identify where public transport is struggling and where new routes can be implemented to reduce traffic. Innovative public transport will run on data in real-time and could be automated.

Secure cities and public safety

Big data analysis can help to identify what causes crime and can visualize this in different locations.

Data smart cities make it easier to fight crime. Data is used to identify high-crime regions. Being innovative in this area allows cities to be better at predicting and preventing crime before it actually happens.

This allows emergency services to redistribute resources accordingly in order to prioritise areas where crime is more likely to happen.

Different data sets can be used together to help manage a crisis, such as natural disasters. By combining sensor data on weather patterns and linking this with movement trends cities can be smarter and more effective at dealing with disasters.

Big data helps to innovate at different stages of this process – from prediction and prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.

Effective spending and planning

Sensor-driven data provides a detailed picture of how populations move and behave. This is valuable for planners as it shows a new different of cities, where multiple, complex systems can be understood together.

Big data helps innovate in areas where housing modifications are needed. It helps identify live house pricing and regional differences. This is one way in which big data has the potential to influence markets in order to help the average person.

This sensor-based data is allowing local government to enhance the services it offers to the population. From taxation to rubbish collection, the increased number of large data sets provides helps innovate and maximise the gain from each tax dollar.

A lot of the conversations around city planning and smart cities is focused on the improvement and delivery of these services whilst engaging the population.

Sustainability, pollution and climate change

Big data brings huge potential in determining local policy. Data is being used to visualise how transport is used and to inform the development of new systems that will create more innovative cities.

Big data has many different properties from traditional datasets. It can be processed quickly and used in real time. It is exhaustive in scope and has a much a finer resolution.

This can drastically increase a citizens life quality. Using data to collectively manage a city’s resources can help to innovate in policy design and plan transportation.

A good example of this is the Alan Turing Institute which has partnered with the Mayor of London to reduce air quality in London. These data projects are interesting because they can provide unique insights which can be combined with other data sets, such as movement data, to potentially inform policy decisions that can have a profoundly positive effect on the quality of life in a city.


Big data is having an innovative effect on the way that cities are run. As more data is available, city planners are becoming better at using this data in a centralised way.

This is changing the potential of what citizens can expect from services in a city. There are multiple use cases which show the benefits that data-driven cities can bring to its citizens.

The next step is ensuring that those in charge can access data quickly and simply to provide a deeper analysis to recognise patterns that can improve the efficiency of city services.

As cities become more populated those in charge will need to innovate by using big data and connected technology to continue to provide citizens with safe comfortable and cost-effective places to live.

About the author

James EwenJames Ewen of Tamoco is making accurate data accessible for all. Our global network provides businesses, organisations, marketers and developers with access to the leading source of precise, real-time data. We’re enabling businesses to build better products, understand audiences and make better business decisions by using powerful mobile device data..

More people are living in cities than ever before. More people are living closer together and changing weather and climate trends carry more threats to citizens. As cities become more digital, it is becoming easier to understand and predict the trends that are affecting the lives of the population.