OPEN Glasgow – City Data Hub

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Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, Community / Citizen Group

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2013/01

Glasgow’s City Data Hub is home to 400 datasets, published with support from 60 partner organisations. The data gives citizens and businesses unprecedented insight into life in their city, and allows them to get more involved in decision making.

Enabling easier and wider access to data is stimulating civic innovation in Glasgow. Service providers, start-ups and citizens are using the data to take a look at the city and come up with new, practical solutions to its challenges. 

The data has been used for instance by app developers to create cycling and walking apps: the former allows cyclists to map their routes and informs decision making on cycling infrastructure; while the latter allows communities to curate and develop heritage or biodiversity walks.

The data hub is part of the OPEN Glasgow initiative, which aims to use open data and technology to improve quality of life for citizens. 

Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF:

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels


This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2015 in the following category: Participation.

Glasgow, United Kingdom

Size and population development

Population composition
As of 2011, 15.4% of the city population is of a minority ethnic group

Main functions
Third largest city in the United Kingdom and largest seaport.

Main industries / business
Financial services, communications, biosciences, creative industries, healthcare, higher education, retail and tourism, but also shipbuilding, engineering, construction, brewing and distilling, printing and publishing, chemicals and textiles

Political structure
The Glasgow City Council consists of 79 councillors elected for a four-year term from 21 wards. The council is headed by the Lord Provost of Glasgow, who is elected to perform tasks as a general civil leader.

It’s widely acknowledged that we are on the eve of the next era in the information age. An era driven by the explosion of data captured through sensors, devices, the internet and people. There is also agreement, though, that cities wanting to unlock the value of this rich new raw material face a big challenge: opening up datasets typically locked away in different organisations. It’s a challenge Glasgow wanted to rise to, recognising that once data is freely available it can be shared and used to build connections, provide unexpected perspectives and inspire new approaches and solutions. In particular, the city saw open data as a potential enabler of its regeneration and service transformation programmes.

Setting out with the primary objective of understanding and proving the benefits of open data, the project team designed four activities:

  • persuading organisations of the merits of participation; 
  • working out how to create an open platform that could be scaled across the entire city; 
  • building a benefits model to convince the public sector of the value of open data and to stimulate the uptake of smart city opportunities; 
  • and developing a methodology and toolkit to support the capture, processing, sharing and use of data.

The team then turned its attention to realising the project’s ambition of enabling data from across the city to be published as ‘open by default’. What was needed was a data platform that could cope with a high volume stream of real-time raw data from traffic, environment and energy systems as well as large datasets about aspects of city life such as the built environment and demographics. What was developed was an expandable Open Data Hub bringing together cloud computing, big data analytics and the Internet of Things which automatically allows the publication and storage of the city’s growing collection of data streams.

With stakeholders aware of the value of publishing their datasets and communities trained to become contributors of data rich with local knowledge, a portfolio of initiatives was established to provide a pipeline of demand for open data. Key among these is the Glasgow Data Launchpad. This online catalogue makes data easily searchable and usable. A retailer might want to know about city footfall, for example. A mobile app developer might be looking for raw material to make an idea come to life. Combining datasets might help a public service provider spot where services could be integrated to work better for all.

For consumers there’s the City Dashboard, where they can create a uniquely personal snapshot of the city from a selection of ‘digital widgets’, building a dashboard to show for example how best to navigate the city during a busy day to the best time to stargaze at night. There are OPEN maps and apps too, both enabling the sharing of knowledge about everything from volunteering opportunities to city history and healthy living to create rich, layered interactive guides to local assets and services. Walter Brown, recovery worker at Easterhouse Alcohol Awareness Project says: "The community map is ideal to assist people to integrate back into the community; it creates an opportunity to put whatever is going on in your local area from arts and drama to volunteering opportunities, leisure activities and community centres." 

Glasgow has won a £24 million (€31m) smart city demonstrator competition run by the UK’s innovation agency, which enabled the City to establish Future City Glasgow, with the OPEN Glasgow data project at its heart.

Through global research, the team discovered and documented the civic value of providing universal access to data on everything from energy consumption to hospital admissions, tourist numbers to school attendance.

Dr Colin Birchenall, lead architect at Glasgow Future Cities Demonstrator, Glasgow City Council explains that: "The impact of open data is far more powerful and far reaching than the city council had expected and it is now being positioned as a key enabler at the heart of the city’s transformation programme."

The team in charge of the project learned that:

  • value comes from creating greater transparency and empathy and bringing diverse datasets together to unearth new insights; 
  • that data-driven initiatives can completely change the way councils engage with communities and design their services; 
  • and that access to city data stimulates businesses to develop products for the good of the city.

As a demonstrator project, OPEN Glasgow has always been intended to have an impact far beyond the city. Other municipalities can learn from the benefits model, as well as the case studies produced on individual initiatives. The off-the-shelf open source product used for the Open Data Hub will enable Glasgow to share this development with other cities too. Learnings from the project are also being fed into city networks in England and Scotland where Glasgow is the lead for smart cities and talks are underway about working similarly on a European level.

- Cities in action - OPEN Glasgow - City Data Hub, Glasgow unlocks the potential of open data - EUROCITIES, May 2016.

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