Opening or releasing data sets provides an opportunity for cities internally and the developer community externally to use the data to build web-based and smartphone applications. As the open data movement has snowballed, so too has the depth and breadth of apps available today.
Consider just a few examples of common apps you can find in cities around the globe today:
Interactive crime maps that help citizens see where crimes are occurring so they can take steps to be safer or be more vigilant and report suspicious behavior.
Traffic flow apps help commuters find the fastest route to their destination and by doing helping relieve road congestion.
Air pollution alerts inform people when air quality reaches a worrisome level, allowing them to take steps to stay safe..
Restaurant inspection apps help citizens choose dining establishments that take food safety seriously and stay away from those that don't. By extension they provide an incentive for restaurants that have been lax with safety to do a better job.
Now let's look at a few city-specific apps. As you'll see, cities of all sizes are participating in the open data movement with apps that help residents and visitors alike in countless ways.
Toronto Cycling. This app has a dual purpose of enabling cyclists to track their rides with GPS and help the city of Toronto improve current cycling infrastructure and plan for future cycling investment.
Simon. Developed by Belfast, Northern Ireland housing charity Simon, this app provides quick and easy access, at a local level, to services if someone is homeless or is at risk of becoming homeless and also gives community members a way to help individuals in need.
The Ferry App. Visitors to Seattle, Washington, often use car ferries that ply scenic Puget Sound. With this app, they won't rush to a ferry terminal only to learn their boat left 15 minutes earlier. Users can view ferry schedules, cameras and vessel positions and save favorite routes for quick access.
App for Cornwall. Boosting tourism in Cornwall, England is the intent of this smartphone app that provides information on attractions, activities, places to eat, pubs, clubs, shopping, accommodation and much more.
DengueLah. Singapore reported 22,318 dengue fever cases in 2013, making it the worst epidemic of the mosquito-borne viral disease since 2005, according to news reports. This app pinpoints dengue outbreaks in greater Singapore, based on data from the National Environment Agency.
Calgary Pets. People who want to adopt a pet or find one that they've lost can use this app to connect to the Animal Services Centre in Calgary, Alberta.
Smart Cities Apps Gallery
Browse through the Council's Apps Gallery for many more examples of smartphone apps developed by and for cities.