Data visualization only first step toward building a smart city

May 16, 2019 10:04
Data visualization, through tools such as data dashboard, can help us get a better picture in relation to complex tasks. Photo: Freepik

I'm currently working on a training program for the Beijing municipal government on ways to build a data-driven smart city and design a framework for precise decision-making.

Many people mix up a decision-making system with a data dashboard.

Data visualization through methods such as data dashboard can simply tell us what’s going on. Making the right decision after consolidating all the information and a thorough analysis is a different story.

I believe most people have overestimated what can be achieved by data technology in tackling various complex issues in city management.

In my opinion, data should be limited to an assistive role in urban management, as a digital tool to help the administration, corporations and individuals to detect problems.

Building a data dashboard is only the first step to get hold of the whole picture.

There are three prerequisites for the dashboard to be useful. First, it should help us detect quickly if something unusual occurs. Second, it should tell us the possible causes and the areas affected. Third, it should give us recommendations on how to handle the situation.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 15

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Venture Partner of Sequoia Capital China, former head of the data committee and vice president at Alibaba Group.