■ Public data
A hitherto unexplored wellspring of growth, public data is the object of keen and diverse interest. Private operators of all types of service are individually developing infrastructure and proprietary software for collecting and analysing data, without there being any shared norms or coordination.
Diverse systems are already springing up across the urban landscape: radio transmitters, repeaters, concentrators, online current carrier adapters and Wi-Fi units are just some of the infrastructure which is becoming essential for public services but whose use and ownership are subject to no guarantees as far as local authorities are concerned.
Beyond the infrastructure, the data itself is appropriated by private operators, restricting the field of competition and depriving local authorities and citizens of information which they could make use of themselves and generate income from.
Voices are making themselves heard at the level of public institutions to alert local authorities to the necessity of retaining control over infrastructure which is essential to the delivery of public services, as well as the fact that public data is a shared public asset. This is one of the major challenges of digital which is currently being played out.
■ Open data
Many local authorities have taken the plunge and embraced open data. This approach consists of making available to citizens the public data which has been collected, most of the time internally.
After the initial flush of excitement, it has to be said that the expected results have yet to materialise: making static, non-dynamic data available online (lists of local markets, tonnages of green waste, etc.), erratic updating, strategic data captured by private operators, ephemeral hackathons, and a struggle to generate income and create new services for the population.
However, the promise of open data is manifold:
- Citizen participation, including in budgetary debates
- Emergence of businesses and new services
- User information and limiting of demand during peak periods
- Sharing of operational information and improvements in the tendering process
The world of open data is now trying to reconnect with its original promise, particularly through adopting an approach which is more orientated towards delivery and the end service for the user rather than merely providing raw and incoherent data.
■ Data center
The use of the internet and the exponential increase in data requires the creation of new facilities to underpin the region: data centres (data storage centres).
The development of data centres has become necessary to ensure rapid access to information and the resilience of telecommunications infrastructure, as well as providing safeguards against spying initiatives by foreign countries (Patriot Act), particularly for public data. These facilities are essential to the development of new services which local authorities could benefit from: virtual storage and cloud computing.
Data centres can bring significant benefits to a region, such as the development of IT services like IT facilities management or the establishment of international companies.
In order to develop these facilities in a region, new forms of public-private cooperation need to be invented, building the long-term investment capacity of local authorities and the technical and commercial expertise of private operators.
Espelia's activities alongside local authorities include: needs analyses, market studies, assistance with carrying out experiments, help with drafting functional project specifications and tendering, and assistance with piloting digital transformation.