smart city analytics platforms

IDC shortlists smart city analytics suites

With ever more data streaming from mobile connected devices, social media, body cameras and geospatial systems, cities have massive amounts of information they can use to manage traffic, cut crime and deliver citizen services.  But for a city to be “smart,” it must have technology to help it cull through all that data and turn it into useful and actionable information.

In fact, only one third of state and local organizations surveyed by IDC Government Insights agree that their data is currently "actionable," illustrating that analytics tools are key to using data-driven insights to deliver citizen services and improve operational efficiency.

In order for smart cities to choose the best business intelligence and analytic platform, IDC Government Insights studied business intelligence and analytic tools and applications from the leading vendors, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, SAS and Tableau -- and found a tight field of leaders.

The “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Smart Cities Business Analytics Software 2015 Vendor Assessment” (Doc #GI259502) evaluated the ability of those companies to provide smart cities with analytic tools capable of most efficiently turning data into useful information.

"The vendors studied for this IDC MarketScape are among the few business analytics vendors that have specific offerings geared towards smart cities and are addressing the most important characteristics for smart cities,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director for IDC's global Smart Cities practice.

And though IDC started with a long list of leading analytics vendors, the list quickly shortened, mainly because some companies were not comfortable sharing details of their smart city offerings or because they did not specifically address regional and local government needs.

“That’s just not where the market is right now,” Clarke said. “These are really the vendors that get the concept of smart cities, that are really tight with what’s happening with municipalities.”

Additionally, IDC wanted to cover the range of analytics needs – from bigger cities with many departments, huge analytics teams and sophisticated data to smaller cities without data scientists. 

The report is applicable to cities of all sizes, Clarke said, because with the expanding use of mobile devices and the Internet of Things, most cities will soon depend on analytics software to help them sift through their data.  Gaining speed and agility with larger datasets will help cities offer self-service analytics and migrate away from dependence on data analysts, Clarke explained.

Municipalities are also looking to share data within departments more easily, as many cities are still dealing with siloed information. “There’s a realization that the value comes in combining data sets,” Clarke said. “So the ability to be able to do that was really important.”

IDC measured and scored the vendors on what it considers the necessary characteristics of smart city solutions:

  • Ease and speed of analysis/self-service
  • Strength of analytics
  • Flexible delivery models
  • Ability to share data
  • Innovation and/or co-innovation

These include ease of use and speed of analysis response; reliance on specialized data analysts; strength of analytics including dashboards and tools for mapping, geospatial data and mobile friendliness; delivery models and cloud offerings; data-sharing options and overall research and development co-innovation partner initiatives.

In addition, IDC advises cities to look for vendors that offer compatibility with mobile applications supported on multiple devices, scalable data platforms and software products stored on-site and through a cloud architecture. IDC also evaluated the platforms’ usability, data visualization capabilities and pricing.

According to Clarke, most cities she worked with already have capabilities in place to use business analytics software or have data in formats ready for analyzing. For cities needing more tools, vendors such as Oracle and Microsoft provide services beyond analytics in their technology stack. Salesforce and Tableau, on the other hand, do not have the same full enterprise suite of software, Clarke said. With data in place, they can layer the analytics on top of other software and give customers an easy-to-use interface.  

IDC MarketSpace gathered criteria and scoring judgments from interviews and surveys with market leaders, users and vendors, end-user experiences and from a review board of IDC experts. Information on accessing the full report can be found on the IDC Government Insights website.

Editor's note: This story was changed Nov. 9 to correct an inaccurate reference to SAS. The correct information is that Salesforce and Tableau do not provide a full enterprise suite of software.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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