Cities are growing at alarming speeds as they become highly populated and more urbanized. Citizens are living in closed environments, and climate issues are providing ever more threats to citizens. Busy roads, traffic, and public services are all issues that are of growing concern for modern cities.
Cities are having to change to adapt to these trends. They have to do this faster than ever before. Increasingly those responsible for managing our towns are looking at big data to help solve these problems.

With the increased digitization, rise in connected devices, sensors, and improved capacity to capture and analyze data, it is now easier to comprehend and predict trends within cities.

Crowd control and transport

Big data is making traffic jams a thing of the past. By identifying trends in congestion and using these to help transport solutions is demonstrating intelligent ways to manage transport in large cities.

Smarter navigation systems can now monitor the roads and can relay this data to a central control center. This provides real-time data on accidents, traffic, and can even assist the emergency services.

This data can be used to change routes in real-time. It can be broadcast to a citizen’s devices to provide valuable updates on what happens around a citizen’s location and which areas are better to avoid.

Recording this data around emergencies can help to identify trends and devise new controls to minimize accidents.

Movement data can show where public transportation is at breaking point and where new routes can be best implemented to reduce traffic issues. Smarter public transport will be live and fuelled by real-time data, and could potentially be automated.

Data is a powerful tool to identify parking loggerheads in real-time and can help to divert traffic to different areas.

Security and the safety of the public

Significant data insights can illustrate the most likely causes of crime and can identify this in different areas of cities.

Data powered cities make it easier for crime-fighting initiatives. Data is used to show high-crime areas. Being smarter in this area allows authorities to be better at predicting and preventing crime before it even happens.

This allows emergency services to redistribute resources better to counter crime in specific areas where it is more likely.

Different kinds of data sets can combine to help in other situations like citywide crises, such as widespread city disasters or natural disasters. By combining weather sensor data with population behavior and other trends, cities can be smarter and quicker at dealing with emergencies.

Big data is crucial at every stage of this process – from prediction and prevention to response and recovery.

City planning and effective spending

Sensor-driven tech provides a detailed view of behavior within a city. This is great for city planners because it allows for a new view of cities, where the various city systems can be understood at the same time.

Big data helps show areas where housing investment is needed. It is delivering insights into live house pricing and regional differences. This demonstrates one way that big data has the potential to reorganize markets to suit the average citizen better.

An increase in sensor data is allowing the government to improve the local services. From taxation to garbage collection, new data sets provide a vast potential for better efficiency from each tax dollar.

A lot of the conversation around city planning and smart cities are based around the improvement and delivery of these services.

Pollution and climate

Big data has shown massive potential in building policy. Data is being used to demonstrate how transport is used and to plan the development of new systems that will completely change the cities where we live.

Big data has different properties from the traditional datasets used by the government. It is collected and processed in real-time, carries more scope, and has much more granularity.

This carries the potential to improve a person’s life quality. Data can be used in the collective management of city budgets to enhance policy and transportation.

One study that demonstrates is the Alan Turing Institute, which has partnered with the Mayor of London to improve air quality in London. These data projects are important because they can provide unique insights which work well with other data sets, such as movement data, to inform decisions related to policy that could dramatically improve the quality of life for citizens.


Big data is having a powerful effect on city management. Better information is available, and authorities are improving at using this data in a centralized way.

This is redefining the potential of what services in a city can do. There are countless examples of the benefits that data-driven cities can bring to citizens.

The next step in this process is ensuring that those in charge can get data seamlessly to provide better insights to recognize patterns that can improve the quality of city services.

As cities become more densely populated, they will need to adapt by using connected data sources to deliver safer and more comfortable places to live.