In development: the ODI's Data Access Map on display at an ODI Members meetup. CC by 2.0

From digital twins to open cities: find out about our new innovation projects

Thu Apr 11, 2019
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From ‘digital twins’ to supporting open cities, the third year of our innovation programme aims to address current data challenges for the public, businesses and policymakers.

The six new projects – which were selected in consultation with Innovate UK – are:

  • Digital twins
  • Collaborative maintenance design patterns
  • Business case for data sharing in the private sector
  • Open cities
  • Data infrastructure and international trade

This year, we are building on previous innovation programme work, which explored trust in data sharing, open innovation across sectors, and the importance of data infrastructure.

Increasing access to data while retaining trust

At the ODI, we advocate for and support an open culture: a data infrastructure that is as open as possible; data literacy and capability for all; and open innovation in both the private and public sectors. At the same time, fears arising from legitimate concerns – such as who has access to data and how it might be used – can prevent us from realising data’s full benefits.

The innovation programme explores the themes of data infrastructure, open innovation, and trust in data sharing, through independent, applied research within the public and private sectors. We publish prototype solutions to demonstrate ideas, as well as reports, tools, podcasts and videos with findings and recommendations.

Innovation programme: year 3 projects

Digital twins

Digital twins are digital replicas of physical assets, processes, places, and systems which can be used to increase understanding of the physical ‘twin’ and identify opportunities for new and better services. We’ll be working with the recently announced Digital Framework Task Group, focusing on exploring data sharing models and other approaches that will support delivery of their roadmap.

Collaborative maintenance design patterns

When data is collaboratively maintained, it can help to share the costs across public and private sector organisations, supporting the creation of sustainable, trustworthy data infrastructure. Datasets that have been contributed to by multiple communities and organisations can also help to tackle bias. However people often worry about how data quality can be maintained with more open, collaborative approaches to maintaining data. But organisations like Wikidata and OpenStreetMap show how collaborative approaches can be used with great success.

In this project we’ll be exploring how we can create design patterns and prototypes to demonstrate how to design systems that support collaborative maintenance of data.. These design patterns will help guide public and private sector organisations to benefit from the approaches.

Data-sharing business models

Building on our research into the relationship between data and artificial intelligence (AI),  the data-sharing landscape, and the importance of an open geospatial infrastructure – we’ll be exploring how data-sharing business models can give businesses a competitive edge.

Open cities

Open cities use open data to improve services (eg open bus timetables), streamline service delivery (eg real-time data sharing) and inform policymaking (eg using dashboards to target resources effectively). Smart cities – which use data and technology to create efficiencies – can only thrive if data is accessible, usable and shareable.

Data is the key to delivering many of the services that citizens and consumers rely on, as well as supporting the creation of new businesses that can export to a global market. Data flow within cities is increasing, but it is often unclear how data is sourced, stored, used and  accessed. In turn, this can lead to a lack of clarity about the relevance, opportunity, risks, and value of the data.

In this project we will be shining a light on these elements and researching how cities – both in the UK and overseas – have developed their data infrastructure using the ODI’s data ecosystem mapping methodology.

Data infrastructure and international trade

Over the last year we have been researching the link between data infrastructure and how well a country can export data-enabled products and services. Over the next year we’ll be continuing to explore this topic though comparative analysis between countries and case studies on why some perform better than others, with specific analysis of select countries. This has the potential to establish data infrastructure as a point of competitiveness in international trade.

Building on our work in Year 2 of the innovation programme

In year 2 (2018–2019) of the innovation programme we:

…explored trust in data sharing

  • We conducted pioneering work with the Mayor of London and the Royal Borough of Greenwich on data trusts as part of its Smarter London Together Roadmap to support AI and protect ‘privacy by design’ for Londoners. The work looked at the data-trust model with real-time data from sensors in social housing (on opt-in/ informed consent basis) and on parking meters. It explored how this data could be shared with innovators in the technology sector to create solutions to city challenges.

…investigated open innovation in the public sector

…supported open innovation in the private sector

…demonstrated the importance of data infrastructure