Hitachi's New IoT Unit Launches Smart Cities Service

Hitachi Insight Group unveils City Data Exchange for making public and private data more easily accessible to city leaders, businesses and residents.


The newly minted Hitachi Insight Group is launching a new smart city offering designed to make data from public and private providers more easily accessible to city leaders, businesses and residents in order to give them the tools to make their communities more sustainable and prosperous.

Company officials on May 18 introduced the City Data Exchange, a new service for the city of Copenhagen that will help the city in its goal to become carbon-neutral by 2025 and will contribute to improving the lives of citizens and bolster the economy, they said.

It's an offering that Hitachi Insight Group engineers developed over the past year, including the solution itself and the first set of applications, according to company officials. It's been tested using real data and in collaboration with an array of partners that are contributing data to the service. The goal is to offer a way for the various stakeholders within the Copenhagen community to more easily access public and private data that may have been available before but in a fragmented way. The data can then be used to improve the functions of the city and its residents.

"Data is the fuel powering our digital world, but in most cities, it is unused," said Hans Lindeman, senior vice president for Hitachi Insight Group in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. "Even where data sits in public, freely accessible databases, the cost of extracting and processing it can easily outweigh the benefits. With the City Data Exchange, Hitachi does all the heavy lifting: We are the connection between organizations holding the data and the people who urgently need them to help the citizens of Copenhagen."

The City Data Exchange is part of Hitachi's larger ambitions to become a significant player in the emerging Internet of things (IoT) space. Officials with the massive international conglomerate have said the company for decades has been building systems and devices in such industries as energy, transportation, utilities, financial services, government and cities as well as the technologies to connect these systems and to collect and analyze the data generated by them.

Even though Hitachi generated a lot of revenue from the various IoT offerings it's created—$5.4 billion last year, with 33 IoT solutions on the market—the offers were siloed and fairly industry-specific. For more than a year, officials have worked on plans to bring all those disparate IoT-related efforts under a single umbrella, an effort that led to the creation of Hitachi Insight Group and the rollout earlier this month of the company's open and adaptable Lumada IoT platform.

Hitachi Insight Group envisions a model where an IoT solution is developed to address a particular customer's issue, but then can be applied to a broad range of other customer and vertical challenges.

That's the case with the City Data Exchange created for Copenhagen. The solution can be adapted and used by other cities, with the goal of creating more efficient and sustainable communities.

Through the City Data Exchange, data sets that were once difficult or impossible to access will become more available. Included in the solution are guidelines for a data format that company officials said is secure and ensures privacy. The City Data Exchange will only accept data that has been anonymized by the supplier of the data, reducing the cost to cities and organizations of having to get the data from multiple sources and processing it themselves.

It will offer data in a variety of categories, from city life and infrastructure to climate, the environment, business, the economy, demographics, housing, buildings and usage of utilities. It can be used widely by local governments, city planners, architects, retailers, telecommunications companies, utilities and other organizations.

Hitachi Insight Group also is developing two applications for the solution. Journey Insight can help citizens in the Copenhagen region track how they use transportation over a period of time and learn about their carbon footprint related to travel. In addition, Energy Insight enables households and businesses to see how much energy they use. Both applications will be launched later this year.

According to company officials, City Data Exchange currently is only offering raw data to customers. Later this year, Hitachi Insight Group will add analytics tools. They said the costs of gathering and processing the data can be made up through subscription and service fees, the cost of which will be less than if the city had to extract, collect and integrate the data on its own.