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Big Data and Smart cities

Departments across the City of Guelph are moving towards greater collection, use and sharing of data. A “smart city” uses technology and data to help manage the city, from traffic to energy, and water use to healthcare.

While cities have a long history of using data to support decision-making, technological advances have dramatically increased the volume and variety of data available and raise the possibility of this new wealth of data being used to make evermore complex decisions.

The GuelphLab hosted 25 City of Guelph staff for discussions with Kurtis McBride, CEO of Miovision, a smart city technology company, and Dr. Rozita Dara, School of Computer Science, University of Guelph, about the possibilities and challenges of “Smart Cities.”


  • Cities face a choice - should data (and the systems that manage them) be “open” or “closed.” A closed system keeps all the data and analysis inside a single piece of software / system - these are often associated with the large technology companies like IBM. “Open” systems make data openly available, allowing other organizations, citizens etc. to use it, and potentially create additional value.

  • The value of data is only realized once systems are created that turn the data into useful insights and action. Implementation of these "Decision Support Systems” face a number of challenges - including the quality of data available. Data preparation fatigue and the "90 percent rule” - cleaning and preparing data to be used in any “decision support system” is often 90 percent of the work.

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