Lessons learned from the Cycle Data Hub and Bicycle Data
By Griet Vanwynsberghe & Julie Tieberghien (VIVES University College)
Within the scope of the BITS project, two platforms focusing on sharing cycling data were developed and launched; i.e. the Cycle Data Hub and Bicycle Data. In this article, the results of the first evaluation of these two platforms will be reported.
The Cycle Data Hub, developed by the Province of Antwerp, is an international open data portal with the aim to collect and share bicycle data. Currently, links to 259 different data sets from several providers and on different topics can be found there. The website Bicycle Data, an extensive cycling database developed by the University of Oldenburg (Department of Business Informatics VLBA), has also been set up within the scope of the BITS project. On this website, raw cycling data and enriched data can be analysed and visualized. Using KPIs, visitors can analyse and compare several cycling data sets, since different data sets were harmonized and standardized.
Several lessons were learned from the development process of both pilots. In this article, we focus on the main and common lessons learned even though we are fully aware that each of the platforms separately also has several other learning potentials.
The first and major lesson learned concerns the data reflex. The data reflex is described as supporting a general data awareness in making data available, making data understandable for different types of users, processing data correctly (e.g. concerning GDPR) and publishing data for others. Both platforms strongly encourage people dealing with cycling data to share their data. Obviously, the more cycling data is shared, the more valuable both platforms become and the more all the data can be used for evidence-based policy-making.
Secondly, and linked to the first lesson learned, is that it is very important to think about the type and timing of the data to be collected beforehand. This is both important for the data collectors and their use of the data, as for the developers of the CDH and Bicycle Data who are dependent on this data to increase the value of the platform.
Thirdly, several problems are encountered due to a lack of standardized cycling data. Several concepts, such as for example near accidents, are measured differently. There exist no definition of what a near accident actually is. Unfortunately, one of the consequences is that different data sets on the same topics cannot be compared due to different definitions of the concepts or different data structures. Therefore, the developers of the CDH and Bicycle Data call for more standardization in data to get more out of cycle data in the future. The development of the Cycle Data Hub and the Bicycle Data website offers a first and valuable step in creating awareness on this topic.
A fourth lesson learned concerns the expertise needed to develop such a platform. While the Cycle Data Hub developers have a lot of expertise in mobility, they sometimes experienced difficulties due to their lack of technical expertise. Conversely, the developers at the University of Oldenburg have a background in informatics and are more experienced with working with large data sets. As a result, they lacked some expertise in terms of the content. Domain experts should be involved in the development as early as possible. Thanks to the cooperation in the BITS project, both the CDH and the Bicycle Data website could benefit from the exchange of knowledge between the Province of Antwerp and the University of Oldenburg.
To conclude, both platforms are without doubt very valuable for anyone interested in or looking for cycling data. On the one hand, both platforms are unique in their kind and make a lot of cycling data freely available. The KPIs and the enrichment of the data set is an assets of Bicycle Data. The diversity and wide set of links to data sets are a benefit of the CDH. Both platforms will contribute to future policy-making concerning cycling. On the other hand, both development processes offer several lessons (e.g. in developing the tool, in cooperation with partners and stakeholders, in impact on policy and businesses) to be integrated into future cycling projects.
Interested in contributing data links to the Cycle Data Hub: visit www.cycledatahub.eu
The Cycle Data Hub will further be evaluated in the coming months, a.o. with feedback from data providers.