Using data for smart city devt: Focus on a specific problem

July 12, 2019 12:56
A highly efficient data ecosystem is a must for smooth running of a smart city. Photo: Bloomberg

Increasingly, we are relying on data in our daily lives.

For example, if you buy a book online from a vendor in another country, the process altogether involves payment system, logistics and transportation, supply chains, insurers, customs, etc.

Smooth data transfer among all these systems is needed to complete a transaction before the book is delivered to your doorstep.

Similar but on a much larger scale and in a more complicated way, a highly efficient data ecosystem is a must behind the smooth running of a smart city.

The cost of an error could be huge given the vast number of companies and people involved.

It's not that difficult to have a good idea of data resources at hand and their potential applications in a business setting. But the situation would be a lot more complex in a city environment.

My experience shows that we need to focus on a specific issue in the first place. Take solving traffic jams, for example. We should ask questions like what data do we need? What data do we have already?

We need to clarify the problem first before looking for the right technological tool.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 11

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.