City Challenges
Smart urbanism

Hackers and Companies Shape the Smart City of the future

What do you get if you gather some of Denmark’s leading smart city experts and companies and let them loose for two days with 50 dedicated hackers? For example concepts for how to keep trucks out of the city, make it easier to find a parking space, share urban experiences, and last but not least: a new airbnb-like concept for making unused space in the city available.

From 29 to 30 May, the Danish Business Authority and the Alexandra Institute hosted a 32-hour Smart City Hackathon with the participation of around 50 dedicated and innovative developers and a wide range of companies. The purpose was to develop new data-driven concepts for how Copenhagen can become a better, safer and smarter city to live in.

The setup was simple: a facilitator – entrepreneur Lasse Chor from Happiest Man Alive – ensured that everything went smoothly; all teams had 30 intense hours to come up with new smart city concepts for Copenhagen. Three judges evaluated the ideas, and 32 hours later, the winners were elected.

Saving Humanity

But first, two inspirational talks were on the agenda:
“Smart city is not only for geeks. It’s about saving humanity.”, said associate professor, Martin Brynskov, from Aarhus University. Together with law firm Plesner, he kickstarted Smart City Hackathon and gave the participants an insight into the smart city concept.

80 % of all economic activity takes place in cities, and the collective purchasing power of European cities amounts to 3500 billion Euros. If this changes just a little bit, the world economy will change significantly too.

Martin Brynskov continued: “I see experimentation as a service and as a way forward when working with smart cities. Why not re-think our cities and citizens? For instance, we could use an airbnb-type solution for resource allocation to enable citizens to give shelter to refugees if they want to and have the facilities.”

“We believe that Danish companies can create new business opportunities through the use of data. We see a huge business potential in the smart city concept and are convinced that the combination of open data, cities and urban development will be at the top of tomorrow’s agenda.” Carsten Ingerslev, Head of Department, Danish Business Authority

Is an IP address personal data?

Michael Hopp and Henrik Bechgaard from law firm Plesner took over and enlightened the participants on the pitfalls and challenges of working with big open data sets in terms of privacy and data rights.

“The EU Commission has estimated that the economic potential of European data is in the order of 140 billion Euros. So you will be working with some highly valuable stuff”, explained Michael Hopp from Plesner, and Henrik Bechgaard added: “Private data is highly valuable so to get access to it, you need the consent of the owner. Right now the European Court of Justice is debating whether an IP address is personal data. So obviously it doesn’t take much before anonymous data becomes personal data.”

Michael Hopp and Henrik Bechgaard give this piece of advice: “Our advice is that regardless of technology or business model, you must have an agreement with the data owner.”


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