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Data is changing cities around the world

3 min

Singapore is making the city safer, and cycling is being promoted in the Netherlands. Dozens of cities around the world are making use of mobile data in key development operations.

“Up until now, data and its use have been more about words than action,” says Petri Seppänen, Global Business Development Manager at Telia. “Now the hype is finally being converted into the actual use of data around the world.”

One example of this is Crowd Insights, a service introduced by Telia in Finland in October 2017. Crowd Insights enables mobile network data to be used in urban and traffic planning.

“We are using data to analyse the movement of crowds. The information can be used in the planning of public transport, urban environments and events, to name just a few examples,” says Seppänen.

Crowd Insights is about processing anonymous crowd data. The system is designed to prevent the identification of individuals – not even the operator could monitor individual people.

“The data is processed in such a format that not even the operator knows which individuals the data is related to. The tracking identifiers are changed daily in the system to make personal data completely inaccessible,” Seppänen explains.

Crowd Insights is being used in the following ways around the world:

More efficient public transport

Up until now, public transport route planning has been based on manually collected information. Employees have interviewed passengers and recorded their answers on paper.  

This is an arduous and inaccurate method. Crowd Insights produces more accurate results by using phone data to monitor the movement of crowds.

In the Stockholm region in Sweden, mobile network data has been used in public transport planning since 2015, when Telia and the bus transport company Nobina started a pilot project.

Safer cities

Singapore uses Crowd Insights technology to promote safety. Emergency response centre call data is analysed to determine whether a specific area has sufficient resources in relation to the number of calls.

The data is also used to predict the probable locations and times of criminal activity. In addition, the authorities make use of Crowd Insights in the planning of operating models in case of natural disasters, such as earthquakes.

Cleaner environments

A telecommunications operator, a company specialising in big data and an expert company promoting sustainable development started a cooperation project in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2016 to reduce emissions through the analysis of mobile data.

The data is used to determine the travel speeds of vehicles, traffic congestion and residents’ travel preferences. The information enables the city to minimise emissions from its transport and road networks through planning.

In Groningen in the Netherlands, data is analysed to promote greener transport by finding solutions that facilitate cycling.

Every day, as many as 70,000 people commute to Groningen from within a radius of 15 kilometres from the city. For them to choose cycling, the routes need to be optimal. Passenger numbers and travel times determined based on mobile data make it possible to design the best possible infrastructure for cyclists.

Text: Tomi Eklund

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The Crowd Insights service follows the movement of crowds, not private individuals.
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