I like statistics. I really don't mind in what format they appear in, I will almost certainly give a good set of stats my undivided attention. I don't just mean traffic statistics, or ITS stats, I'll look at anything as long as there's a comparison. Only yesterday I was looking at a set of statistics that compared the opening week's box office takings in US cinemas of the original Blade Runner in 1982 with the opening week's box office takings in US cinemas of the new Blade Runner movie. It was really interesting and yet I've never seen either film. I've not seen any of the Star Wars films so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that I've not seen Blade Runner but it was fascinating to see what constitutes a good week in box office terms in 2017 compared to 35 years ago (and this was not a good week for the new Blade Runner film).
Although I am not an engineer or a mathematician I thoroughly appreciate that this is, in its basest form, data. I read something earlier this year that said of all the data ever collected in the history of mankind, 91 per cent of it has been generated since June 2012. Who wouldn't be taken in by something that extraordinary? That's mind-blowing. But it's also incredibly relevant to how the ITS sector and the smart cities sector are progressively morphing into one. Five years ago, in Venn diagram terms, there was very little intersection of commonality between ITS and smart cities. Now though, there's more in the intersection than in the individual regions of the diagram. And data is the reason.
Read any article about smart cities and you'll find data at the heart of the piece. Have any conversation about smart cities and data will crop up within the first few minutes. Data collection, data management, data protection, data mining, data cleaning, data lakes...in an article that will appear in Connected North America, the bespoke publication we are producing for the ITS World Congress in Montreal, Bob McQueen pus it very succinctly: "Smart Data Management will become a crucial element in delivering action and results within a scientific approach that makes the maximum use of the data available. Are the actions you take today and the ones you plan for the future adequately informed by insight and understanding?"
Are "we" ready? That's what he's really saying. Are "we" capable of handling all the data that is coming our way? Imagine a scene from another Harrison Ford movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indiana Jones is running through a network of tunnels trying to stay just ahead of vast torrents of water that is threatening to engulf him. Now imagine that's you and that water is data. Is there something you could have done to prevent that life or death situation a few months ago? Are you, let's be blunt, underprepared?
Help, however, is at hand. As part of the Intertraffic Amsterdam 2018 Smart Mobility Hall we (and by we I mean Thinking Cities magazine) will be running four inextricably linked smart city events. There's the Thinking Cities Pavilion that will be home to around 15 SMEs and start-ups in the smart mobility sector; TC Tech Talks, a series of chat-show style discussions featuring cities, experts, consultants, OEMs and representatives of the SMEs and start-ups; a Thinking Cities Summit, taking place on the second and third mornings and focusing on Mobility as a Service (an entirely data-driven discipline) and Autonomous Driving (about which the same could be said); and there'll also be eight simultaneous roundtable discussions on the 21st and 22nd of March where, now I come to think about it, data in one guise or another is at the heart of every single one.
We look forward to seeing you there...