Almost two years after the city of Brno (Czech Republic) joined the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) in pursuit of radical transformation of its digital services, the city is now bearing its first fruits despite a difficult journey. From winning an award for its open city data and doubling the amount of city services offered, the city reflects on its key developments, achievements, areas for growth and overall ICC journey.
Just two years ago, the city of Brno did not have a properly functioning data platform due to outdated or ineffective underlying technology and various crucial processes. All data transfers from the city to its citizens and companies were made through email or drive exchanges. Further, publishing of open data did not meet basic requirements set by EU and Czech laws.
Huge changes have since taken place, the old technology and infrastructure have been completely overhauled. Brno switched to ArcGIS Hub as its primary technology for publishing open data and built around a chain of servers necessary for this task. Now more than 100 high-quality and continuously updated datasets ranging from greenery through transportation to population data are provided. Further, for the first time in the city’s history, the city published sensory data, such as real-time car parks capacity data or air quality data. As a recognition of the quality of the project, it was awarded the GIS (Geographic Information System) Project of the Year Award by ESRI in the Czech Republic by the end of 2021.
BrnoID is city’s electronic identity which allows its citizens to access and pay for city services easily from the comfort of their own homes. This project had already been launched at the beginning of ICC but as a part of the city’s digital transformation, we have now committed to expanding and widening the scope of the identity to fully cover all city services. Since joining the ICC, Brno has doubled the number of services offered meaning residential parking and sports are now covered.
The BrnoID project is currently being restructured to allow for a more robust electronic environment to be deployed and for even more ambitious projects and services to be offered. The Museum module that will allow our citizens to buy tickets to all museums in our city from one point with single credentials is the first that is planned to come to life in 2022. By the end of the ICC, BrnoID hopes to offer at least 15 services or modules to Brno’s citizens.
The city is however most proud of its users. Since opening the data, several dashboards, apps, or websites using city data have sprung up. For example, there is an app that navigates people to the nearest recyclable bin and a website that notifies citizens about the current car parking capacity in the city.
Brno is proud to announce that they are well on the way to making 90% of all city data open to the public by the end of this year, of which 100% of the sensory data being opened. The city has also committed to building at least 6 analytical tools that build on top of the open data to help improve efficiency of various processes. So far, the following has been built:
Public transit model app which uses GTFS data to help transportation planners
Adopt Your Tree app which optimises green data to allow for citizens to support a specific tree
Walking accessibility model for bins that enables more efficient bin distribution across the city.
Areas for growth
Whilst celebrating its successes, Brno has also dedicated time to reflect on what has not gone as planned. Due to ongoing technical issues and budget cuts caused by the effecys of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to publish public transit positional data nor open the platform to the private sector for at least another next 3 years. Nonetheless, the city is hopeful that they will be able to deliver most of the milestones in the upcoming years.
Looking to the future, Brno is currently working on a tool that will allow for seamless extraction of the most up-to-date population data without breaching privacy laws and complying with GDPR. Another tool that will enable navigation companies, such as Waze, to display the live positional data of their garbage trucks is being developed. This will help citizens save time by avoiding streets with traffic jams caused by garbage trucks.
Whilst Brno feels they are still not where we would like to be, thanks to their relentless and continuous efforts, they can already see the light at the end of the tunnel - being the national leader in digital innovation. The ICC encourages Brno on their onward journey!