UK city launches first data trust platform

Cambridge has begun to rollout its smart city platform by signing new deals with tech company Kainos and smart lighting and sensor company Telensa, that will build and support its City Data Guardian trust platform.

Collecting and protecting data is part of the British city’s Urban Data Project. Launched last month, the project is being built alongside the City Data Guardian trust platform.

The consortium that makes up the platform–which includes Telensa, Kainos, Microsoft, Smart Cambridge and Qualcomm–says it will enable data transparency, and assist chief data officers to build public trust and engagement.

“The next step is to begin to work with the data collected and to engage with residents and stakeholders on the data guardian to understand how it can support transparency and the ethics of data re-use,” Dan Clarke, Strategy & Partnerships Manager, Smart Cambridge, told Cities Today.

Data will be collected by Telensa’s video and radar sensors on streetlight poles which are then run on Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge software that uses real-time AI and machine learning to extract insights from the raw data. Pod and city data is then combined in the City Data Guardian platform–built on Microsoft Azure–that enables cities to apply privacy policies, comply with data regulations, and make data available to improve services.

“The Telensa sensor would give us the ability to collect data on transport movements, cycle and pedestrian movements with the potential to expand to parking data and air quality data as well as data to support service delivery,” said Clarke. “The data will then be used in a number of ways, to support schemes to improve air quality, address issues of congestion and support changes in the way that the council delivers services.”

The consortium says that the City Data Guardian is a secure-by-design trust platform that puts cities in control of their data, by applying privacy policies, ensuring regulatory compliance, and making data available to improve services and drive future city revenues.

Clarke said that Smart Cambridge will look at the business case for an at-scale deployment to support the expansion of the pilot.

“The use of urban data has been limited by two barriers,” said Jon Lewis, VP Urban Data, from Cambridge-based Telensa. “The first is the cost of single-purpose sensors, and the related cost of moving video data to the cloud. The second has been one of trust, how can a city’s chief data officer apply best-practice policies to the data, and provide transparency to citizens on how that data is protected and used.”

The consortium hopes to roll out the platform in other cities so that it can be used to aggregate all data collected by the platform.

A statement by Telensa said: “The Urban Data Project is intended to give cities a common language for data privacy so that they can work together to compare policies, and over time develop best practice. The plan is for a set of cities to follow Cambridge’s lead towards the end of the year.”