Experimentation as a Service

The types of public services available to communities usually include waste collection, road management and transportation. OrganiCity asks: what if our local authorities could expand their remit to offer experimentation with urban data as a service?

OrganiCity is a prototype of Experimentation as a Service: a public service, which enables anyone in a city to experiment with urban data.

Experimentation as a Service is a model in which cities provide the resources for citizens, small businesses, corporations and city authorities, to test their new ideas at a small scale.

This service is comprised of a series of innovative pillars:

  • Systematic experimentation: a framework of resources and tools facilitating a process for  evaluation of results at a small scale before iteration and expansion;
  • Co-creation: a framework where we generate ideas, technology and services in collaboration, maintaining people at the core of the process;
  • Federated ethics and privacy: a framework of end-to-end protection of users and data subjects (individuals the data refers to)throughout the service; and
  • Management of liability and intellectual property rights: a framework of legal protections for those collaborating in the innovation process.

OrganiCity is a collaborative research project, funded by the European Commission through Horizon 2020 from January 2015 until June 2018. We are currently working on methods for sustaining Experimentation as a Service beyond this funded period.

What do we mean by experimentation?

Experimentation is the process of testing out new ideas or approaches. In a city context, experimentation is often carried out in response to urban challenges such as mobility, waste, well-being, sustainability, or population size. Experimenting in a city means that those proposed solutions can be prototyped, tested and observed in a real-life urban setting.

Short sprints of experimentation at a local scale provide the opportunity to learn quickly. When something works, it can be iterated and scaled up to a wider area or another city. When it doesn’t work, the lessons learned can be incorporated into future project iterations and save you the time and resources that would have been invested in a traditional large-scale deployment. Experimentation offers participants the opportunity to learn, not only from their own successes and failures, but also from the aggregated experiences of other people, as they experiment and grow their solutions.

This open culture makes experimentation more accessible and useful to citizens, developers, small businesses, corporations and cities, whilst also developing its direct economic value. Cities and experimenters are participating in a large market based on standard specifications – this allowing suppliers (experimenters) to grow their business, while providing buyers (cities) the opportunity to obtain better market pricing. This is a key value OrganiCity add by going beyond the one-off experimentation. 

What is experimentation with urban data?

OrganiCity currently hosts experiments that involve urban data and the Internet of Things. Urban data is any information generated in a city that can be measured, such as temperature, pollution, traffic levels, footfall, green areas or even a tweet.

Experimentation with urban data explores new ways in which this data can be captured and used, for example:

  • Deploying new sensors,
  • Using existing sensor infrastructure for new purposes,
  • Merging datasets to uncover new value for the city,
  • Analysing existing data through new algorithms,
  • Making this data more accessible and engaging to others through visualisations or other forms,
  • Sharing this data in a more efficient way, or
  • Encouraging people to act upon this information.


Internet of Things (IoT): A network of objects with sensors connected to each other and online.

Experiment: Testing an idea at a small scale through various methods (including data and technology) to tackle a specific urban challenge.

Sustainability: Capable of continuing long-term due to backing from a business model and fitting the needs from key stakeholders.

Ethics & Privacy: A framework of end-to-end protection of users and data subjects (individuals the data refers to) throughout the service.