Every form of digital communication results in data. But the term “big data” is only used when the volume of data changes so quickly or is so large and so complex that manual analysis is no longer possible. Ever since the rise of the Internet of Things, the number of devices connected to the Internet has grown exponentially and with it the volume of data.
With respect to the smart city, big data offers enormous potential to improve urban infrastructure, for example, by analyzing city traffic. A huge amount of data can be collected in a shorter period of time using GPS data from navigation systems and records from fixed measuring devices. When these data are converted into comprehensible metrics and analyzed in a meaningful way, they form the basis for making precise forecasts about changes in traffic patterns in certain places at certain times. If these data are made publicly accessible, in the best-case scenario it may even be possible to avoid traffic jams. Since if you know in advance that there will be a lot of traffic, you may prefer to ride the train instead.
Urban transportation is just one example of the many areas where big data can be applied in the city of the future – using the right tools, analyzing electricity consumption, changes in weather, and the movement of particulate matter can also provide valuable insights into life in the city.
The term “big data” itself has come under criticism because it is now a synonym for just about every form of data analysis, which does not allow for distinctions regarding the quality of the data and the methods used for analysis. Used systematically, however, big data can form the basis for effective and efficient cities.