HSY aims at better utilisation of interfaces - “Activities based on a platform economy would be interesting”
HSY is a joint municipal authority that is responsible for the water supply and waste management of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. It collects diverse information on the area and shares a variety of datasets related to the environment as open data. These datasets make it possible to examine, for example, the use of electricity, residents’ recycling activity, the concentrations of air pollutants and the greenhouse gas emissions from transport in the area.
– The data on air quality has for a long time been used by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and, as part of a national dataset, the air quality in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is reported on displays on trams, for example, says development manager Timo Vakkilainen.
Still a long way to real-time sharing of data
The majority of the shared data is one-off samples in formats such as excel or .shp. The data that is available through the interface is mainly geographic datasets related to the map service.
– We are aware that developers would like to have more of the constantly available online data that they could rely on. However, for the time being, it is difficult for us to get such data, Vakkilainen says regretfully.
According to Vakkilainen, there are some interfaces already in use, but the majority of them transfer data directly from one system to another and do not offer data that can be used openly by everyone. The reason is partly the accuracy of the data and therefore the possible risk posed to data security, and partly the available resources.
– In a way, the idea of utilising interfaces is still at the development stage, but there is definitely willingness to join activities based on a platform economy. For example, as regards the overall management of real property, we can already provide the waste amounts of properties and, in future, water meter readings.
HSY already has the technology required to share data and build interfaces. This is enabled by the Azure cloud computing service.
New opportunities for the utilisation of data
According to Vakkilainen, HSY is currently the party providing data rather than one receiving it.
– We should give more consideration to what kind of data we could utilise. For example, it would be possible to use crowdsourced data on air quality to enrich our own data on air quality. At the moment, an EU-funded joint project to place news sensors, for example, in the gardens of single-family houses is under way.
According to Vakkilainen, the internet of things would also offer interesting opportunities for the collection and utilisation of data.
– The water services have of course been collecting data on both clean water and wastewater for years, but they have been transferring information from one computer to another rather than sharing data. There are still things we need to learn ourselves about how we could combine these data and use them better.