Digital City Exchange is a five-year Digital Economy multi-disciplinary research programme at Imperial College London. Researchers are exploring ways to digitally link utilities and services within a city, enabling new technical and business opportunities. The programme of research focuses on harnessing next generation digital systems to combine and repurpose city data: ultimately, transforming the planning and use of cities. 

A key goal of the program is to explore approaches to integrating the growing variety of data sources in the smart city. From travel disruption alerts to city statistics data-stores and live data from smart meters, the possibilities of integrating data are growing. Such integrated data sources have the potential to create transformational new data-based city services.

Digital City Exchange programme overview
Digital City Exchange programme overview
 

Such transformation will only occur when many of the barriers to the use of smart city data are removed. Foremost amongst these is the fragmentation in the collaborative use of smart city data, analytics and models. From a technical perspective, this occurs through a lack of interoperability springing from the plethora of sensor hardware and software, model and data format standards being deployed in the smart city. Socially, we also see fragmentation in the smart city; this ranges from restricted access to data sources and models together with concerns around privacy and confidentiality. Similarly in the creation of a single new smart city service a range of technical platforms will be required from sensor management to data storage and web servers.

No single platform covers the whole life cycle of sensor data from collection through processing to syndication. Such challenges are the primary barrier to the creation of new smart city services utilising the big data increasingly generated in the city. In order to address these challenges and enable data based city services capabilities and a context for the use of city data must be provided. To this end the Digital City Exchange program is creating the Concinnity platform to address those challenges in the smart city.

Building an open data platform
Building an open data platform
 

The Concinnity platform

The Concinnity platform is a platform for integrating data and creating new smart city services. The platform consists of three layers each targeting a different part of the sensor data life cycle. Firstly, WikiSensing.org provides a collaborative sensor data management platform for storage of TBs of sensor data. Its schema-less design enables storage of many types of sensor data and provides APIs for assessing the trustworthiness of crowd-sourced data. Secondly, the HierSynth engine provides a workflow capability for automating data integration and transformation tasks. This engine enables the use of analytics, predictive and simulation models with smart city data. Finally, a collaborative, web-based application editor enables the creation of workflows for integrating big data and creating novel smart city services.

Screenshot of the AppEditor interface of the Concinnity platform
Screenshot of the AppEditor interface of the Concinnity platform