The first stage in starting to share data is of course identifying and gathering it. But how is that going to happen? Claus Popp Larsen, RISE’s focus-area manager, explains why it is seldom a good idea to start by acquiring a sensor.
Climate change, mobility, an ageing population – the list of municipal challenges can indeed be extensive. Digitisation is being used more and more in order to meet them, and the majority of future societal services will be data-driven. But in order to be able to create such services you need to start by gathering data, and in order to know what data is to be gathered you need to understand why you are doing it.
– "If you are going to collect data there must be a reason, a requirement or a problem you wish to address," explains Claus Popp Larsen, RISE’s focus-area manager for connected cities.
And while it might sound obvious, a big survey carried out by RISE three years ago showed that few organisations could actually say why they needed data.
– “When we asked what their requirements were they said they needed sensors, but a sensor is not your requirement – it's just your tool. You need to dig deeper, and to know why you need the sensor, what you want data on and what that data is to be used for. A requirements analysis is needed, and for that you need to dig deep enough to find the basic need.”
There is only one problem with this: data is sometimes needed in order to carry out the requirements analysis.
– “My tip is to see the whole thing as an iterative process. And if it's the first time you've used data it might be a good idea to start by acquiring a sensor, seeing what it can give you and starting to play with data, so as to gain an understanding of what it is and what opportunities it can bring you.”
See the whole thing as an iterative process
Another important initial stage that is unfortunately often postponed until the end is considering how the tool you want to develop is actually to be used in the business.
– “There’s general frustration that so many excellent projects are being implemented, e.g. on the Internet of Things, for which you describe the benefits and create a great demo, but for which nobody is prepared to actually implement it in the business once it has been completed.
To avoid this problem, right from the very start you need to simultaneously work from both the top and the bottom of the organisation.
– “The digitalisation manager, head of administration or any similar person must make the decision that the service is to be developed so as to lend the project credibility and provide it with resources. But equally important is firmly establishing it amongst those who are actually going to use it. If you are going to introduce a digital social-care service, then you’ll need to have on board the people within social services who actually use it, otherwise you will face resistance.
Get help from RISE
And help is available, concerning the organisational and technical issues and, not least, how to combine them.
– “We at RISE can help with all these matters, and at all levels. We can take our customers by the hand and join them on the journey, with them having knowledge of their municipality and us having the technical knowledge. We are also knowledgeable about how things works in other municipalities, so you avoid having to reinvent the wheel completely unnecessarily.