IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - Winter 2013 - 51

L

ocal governments have
decided to take advantage of the presence
of wireless sensor
networks (wSNs) in
their cities to efficiently manage
several applications in their daily
responsibilities. The enormous
amount of information collected by
sensor devices allows the automation of several real-time services
to improve city management by
using intelligent traffic-light patterns during rush hour, reducing
water consumption in parks, or
efficiently routing garbage collection trucks throughout the city [1].
The sensor information required
by these examples is mostly selfconsumed by city-designed applications and managers.
In such scenarios, the potential
of sensor networks and the information they provide are not being fully
and efficiently used, possibly due to
a lack of motivation and vision on
the part of government officials, as
well as a lack of the required knowledge and skills. Another plausible
cause is that city councils cannot
afford the extra time and cost. One
solution is to make the data available to third parties so they can use
it to enhance existing or develop
new services and applications. The
U.S. Public Policy Committee of
the Association for Computing
Machinery [2], and the Open Government Think Tank [3] have recommended an "Open Data" policy.
Open data is the concept that
defines the publication of government or private company data
without copyright restrictions. The
data should be formatted so that
citizens can reuse it at their discretion to create new, innovative
services or applications. Today,
the Open Data movement is driving a major change in the relationships among governments, citizens,
and businesses, as it is one of the
catalysts of open innovation in the
public sector. Privacy guidelines
for opening data within the context of national security and citizen

privacy were first researched by
Aaron Swartz [4].
The use of open innovation has
proven to be a more efficient way
to increase the competitiveness of
companies in the private sector. The
same concept is now being applied
in the public sector, adapting its
principles but keeping increased
innovation as its main objective
[5]. The way to catalyze this innovation is by releasing information
on Open Data portals. Moreover,
the use of web-based platforms to
facilitate third-party access to public or private data is a fundamental
change not only in terms of transparency but also in terms of new
business opportunities.
Mobile applications are seen as
the most promising tools for using
such real-time data generated by
sensors. On the one hand, almost
every citizen has a smartphone
according to Ericsson [6]. On
the other hand, it is easy to build
new applications for such devices
without any specialized technical
knowledge. App markets like those
from Apple, BlackBerry, Google
or Nokia are taking advantage of
GPS mobile modules for including localization in most of the apps,
socializing with friends, searching
for a special museum, locating a
bus station, discovering events that
may happen around you, and a large
etcetera of well-known examples.
In this article we explain how
including information from sensor
networks in Open Data platforms,
together with Open Innovation
practices in the public sector, is a
new arena for encouraging [Or
FOMENT, not force] competition
and generating economic growth
and citizen welfare. we introduce
an Open Data platform with realtime sensor data built within the
framework of the Open Cities Project [7]. The existence of similar
platforms like Xively [8], which
inherited the essence of the Pachube
site, where users upload all kinds
of data coming from sensors, confirms that the use of platforms for

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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wINTEr 2013

storing and publishing data is now
more mature. For example, measurements from homemade devices
like solar panels, digital thermometers, or other gadgets can easily
feed those platforms.
Open Sensor Data is a concept
that extends the idea of Open Data
by considering dynamic data as
the main driver of the platform. In
contrast to traditional Open Data,
sensor information often has more
demanding requirements in terms of
scalability, reliability, latency, standardization, and interconnectivity.
To address the issues at hand,
the article is organized as follows.
First, we introduce the concept of
Open Data as a tool to develop Open
Innovation in Smart Cities. Then,
we analyze the problems of adding
sensor data to an Open Data platform. To assess them we have implemented a real environment which we
call an Open Sensor Data platform.
Moreover, we show that integration
through platforms is the next big
problem of Open Data. Finally, we
present some examples of successful
applications that use real-time information from sensor networks, which
also proves that Open Data can foster
innovation in public services.

Smart Cities Paradigm and
Open Innovation
To sustain economic growth and
profitability in a more globalized
and competitive environment, firms
and cities must continue innovating. Traditionally, firms have used
their internal research and Development (r&D) departments as their
only source of innovation. This was
the innovation model of the 1950s,
a classic technology push model or
so-called closed model of innovation.
Currently, the business environment does not allow companies to
produce and manage ideas autonomously. But it is more crossconnected among different sectors,
areas, and geography. Because of that
fact, there are more sources of innovative ideas, with a wider set of potential sources both inside and outside
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