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Construction : Cover Story | July 2017 | Source : Infrastructure Today

Structuring and Framing Big Data Sets Require Devoted Machine Learning

Patricia McCarney, President and CEO, World Council

How is big data likely to play a role in addressing unique requirements?

Right now, there is a proliferation of big data that can be used for a myriad of purposes. Unfortunately, without a structure in which to organise big data, its full potential can often be overlooked. Structuring and framing big data sets require devoted machine learning support teams with urban expertise driving informed sets of questions. Through our work at the World Council on City Data (WCCD), we focus more concretely on standardised city data. As a part of these efforts, in 2014, we published ISO 37120, the first international standard for indicators on sustainable cities. These 100, modest, globally comparable and independently verified key performance indicators (KPIs) help to create exactly the kind of framework which cities require to organise their data, to benchmark and to set targets year over year.

How has the use of big data made difference to infra projects in terms of timeline, costing, etc.?
The WCCD has increasingly become a key player in measuring the impact of infrastructure projects. We are currently in discussions with city and national governments around the world to leverage ISO 37120 as a means of measuring the impact of infrastructure spending year over year. In fact, we are currently in discussions with national governments on using the KPIs to measure the impact of large infrastructure investments and smart city budgets year over year.

In terms of PPPs, how are data-driven outcomes essential?
It is increasingly becoming apparent in almost every facet of the modern economy that data-driven outcomes are turning highly essential, as PPPs are facing unprecedented scrutiny in the modern age of transparent governance and engaged population. With public money at stake, individuals are sitting up and showing great interest in knowing how their tax dollars are being spent. To meet such demands, data is needed as part of transparent governance. Data is not only essential for operational efficiency and disclosure, but the WCCD believes that data - especially standardised and comparable - can help drive innovation.

How can data dictate reactions to unexpected events?
Carefully harnessed big data and standardised data are essential for creating efficiencies and driving innovation in projects to ensure success. A robust data collection and monitoring platform can help in preparing for the unexpected, while providing a robust reporting system that can help avoid unexpected events in future. Data can help not only in early response and preparedness for an unexpected event, but also in monitoring that response and informing response capabilities for future events of a similar nature.

Does data have the ability to improve performance as well as transparency and save money?
Certainly. Both standardised data and properly harnessed big data can contribute greatly to transparency and performance improvement. Moreover, standardised data will allow for lessons learned in a project to be passed on to another project, and thereby drive efficiencies.

How can big data play a major role in strengthening the infrastructure project procurement process?
All forms of data are critical in strengthening the highest procurement process. Big data that is properly formulated for procurement decision-making will support effectiveness. It is our core offering at the WCCD that standardised data, capable of generating high calibre data based on selected key performance indicators, is in fact essential to the project procurement process. It allows for governments to understand community-wide deficiencies and to make the best investment in a project for the community.

That said, how can big data improve and manage revenue stream, especially in smart cities?
To take a step back, it should first be stated that data in and of itself is a necessary driver of a smart city. To that end, it is critical in both improving and managing revenue streams. A truly smart city is an efficient city and its definition must expand beyond the simple focus on ICT.

 
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