Gartner predicts 20 per cent of all local government organisations will generate revenue from value-added open data through data marketplaces by 2020.

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Sowing the seeds for this new revenue stream is the growing source of data captured when citizens interact with cities and government. Gartner believes there is a huge opportunity to develop open data portals that can increase efficiency, improve citizen experience and generate revenue for government organisations.

“Open data portals in cities are not a new thing, but many portals today have limited machine readability and therefore limited business value,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research vice president at Gartner. “The city becomes ‘smart’ when the data is collected and governed in a way that can produce valuable real-time streams, rather than just backward-looking statistics or reports.”

Some cities are already building data marketplaces, especially in light of the increasing streams of data from the IoT. One early mover is Copenhagen Data Exchange, which takes the very first steps of connecting citizens to data, providing online city records and a mix of lenses through which to view the information.

Taking that a step further, a true marketplace presents this data for more business-oriented benefits. Gartner believes the key to monetisation will be automating and extending the user experience to allow citizens and businesses to discover and prepare data, and to find patterns and share them within their community or organisation.

“Users will have a number of options to ‘pay’ for data access depending on the use case,” said Tratz-Ryan. “A normal citizen may simply participate via data democracy and have free access in return for providing their own data, whereas commercial use may require sharing revenue with the data owner, or buying a license to access an enriched data source.”

Smart cities

Gartner predicts 50 per cent of citizens in million-people cities will share their data with smart city programs by 2019.

“As citizens increasingly use personal technology and social networks to organise their lives, governments and businesses are growing their investments in technology infrastructure and governance,” said Anthony Mullen, research director at Gartner.

“This creates open platforms that enable citizens, communities and businesses to innovate and collaborate, and ultimately provide useful solutions that address civic needs.”

The volume and diversity of the data generated by citizens will continue to grow in line with the proliferation of consumer devices and the IoT. Citizens will experience some of the benefits of sharing data passively, through government and commercial collaboration. As this hyperconnectivity picks up pace, however, citizens will become more aware of the value of their “life data” and will be willing to proactively exchange it for “in the moment” value.

This process of data sharing is being accelerated by the demand for efficiency and convenience. Some governments are better than others at addressing these changing needs. For example the Utah Department of Public Safety provides a practice exam for its driver’s licence via Amazon Echo, and Singapore is collaborating with Microsoft on its “conversation as a platform” initiative to develop chatbots around a number of public services.

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