Opportunities for Data Monetization

With efforts to take advantage of data monetization, many diverse initiatives have been organized by local governments to advance in this area.


Executive Summary

Municipalities are finding unique tools to become utilize data. A common data source has centered around the use of sensors and other infrastructure put in place to capture data. These smart tools can gain information in key categories. They include the areas of traffic, weather, and safety. These sensors can create real-time data for an assortment of categories. Through this, local governments can monetize these specific data through public-private partnerships.

There is a considerable amount of interest regarding this data. Researchers claim that there is an abundance of data brokers who are seeking this information. In addition to this, the creation of datasets and further data analysis can make this partnership more appealing for potential opportunities. Most importantly, there is a heavy focus on privacy concerns and making sure this data is secure. With additional principles and specific policy, cities look to establish trust and an eagerness to show their commitment to their community that data is protected. Some cities also choose to establish review boards to involved communities with these processes and to share privacy efforts. Others also partner with companies that specialize in cybersecurity to create continuous protection that supports all components of sharing data.

The following cities and their projects were highlighted to show how data monetization is being utilized within local government 

  1. City of Kansas City
    • Sensor Data, Kiosk, Smart Infrastructure
  2. City of Chicago
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​“Array of Things” Nodes (Smart Street Lights)
  3. City of San Diego
    • Smart Node Sensors

Lastly, there are additional tools and suggestions listed following these examples to create more opportunities for data monetization.

Research Findings

City of Kansas City  

Sensor Data, Kiosk, Smart Infrastructure

  • Background: In 2015, the city made a public-private partnership to create more emerging technology initiatives. Through this, they were able to install 54 square blocks of free Wi-Fi, interactive kiosks, streetcar route, and streetlight sensors. The city’s main goals when establishing these efforts are to “improving the lives of our residents with better quality air, water, land, food and affordable housing, protecting privacy rights, and providing equitable opportunities for education, health and economic success” (Click here to learn more about this initiative).

  • Design: With the implementation of sensors, the city can generate its own data. This data provides more information on traffic, parking, pedestrian hotspots. In addition to this, the city can receive this data in real-time. Most importantly, they work with partner, XAQT, to build on this data and to make platforms to best display this information. They also use the kiosks as a marketing technique, and these are spread out through the city. Lastly, with more advanced infrastructure to provide more dynamic services.

  • Revenue: The total generated revenue from this project was not listed on the city website. However, they did share that the partnership agreement was listed at $15 million. 

  • Privacy Concerns: The city created a list of principles that they are committed to upholding goals regarding privacy. They share that accessibility, education, security, and remaining consistent with policy are key goals that they wish to maintain (Click here to read these principles). 

City of Chicago

“Array of Things” Nodes (Smart Street Lights)

  • Background: In 2016, the city has partnered with the Urban Center for Computation and Data at Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and other private partners to install 500 nodes within the city. The cities of Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Seattle have also committed to this project (Click here for more information on this project).

  • Design: These nodes are sensors that collect further data on traffic, population, air quality, climate change, and a variety of other measurements. The sensors are discreetly placed above several streetlights. Creators made sure to make these sensors durable to any weather condition along with a sleek design. Partners did not want the sensors to look ominous, but more streamlined with the streetlights (Click here for more information on the design and future efforts).

  • Revenue: Although revenue has not been reported due to the project being at the first trial stage. However, they have claimed that there have been multiple offers and there is a strong request interest. 

  • Privacy Concerns: This project has established its privacy policy. This policy is heavily focused on creating oversight committees with representatives from all community organizations. In addition to this, partners share how extensive their security process and databases that are protected. Finally, they share that transparency is at the forefront of their efforts (Click for the full privacy policy proposal)

City of San Diego

Smart Node Sensor

  • Background: In 2016, the city approved to place over 3,000 smart sensors within the local area. The city is in partnership with General Electric and they are furthering this with a collaboration with U.S Marine Corps. City officials state that this plan would allow the city to enhance operations and to generate revenue (Click here to learn more about this project).

  • Design: These sensors would be displayed on the streetlight and would be a low-cost LED lighting system. They are also able to report data in real-time and are easily accessible. The sensors provide further information on “air, traffic and pedestrian safety and monitoring”. In addition to this, the nodes can also help responders with more information and also help with sharing about carbon emissions. All of these data measurements are configured in just one node and can heavily track different data.

  • Revenue: The total revenue was not shared because the city reported that they have not sold this data just yet. However, they have shared that they have an overwhelming number of requests to do so. They also shared that there are so many data brokers and that cities need to take advantage of this (Click here to learn more).

  • Privacy Concerns: The city partnered with Tenable which is a cybersecurity company. They work to provide further monitoring and protection for this information. The company is also able to have a continuous process in which this data is being protected. This was one of the only cities that worked with another organization to establish more security with this project. 

Additional Opportunities

Sources of Data

  • There are many different areas from which data can be derived. This mostly is where sensors can be placed. It can include light poles or video monitoring. 

  • They also suggest that data exchanges are an opportunity that many international cities have taken part in. Through this, they can establish private partners and give different points of access. This access grant can be organized at different levels and at different price points.

  • With sensors and other video monitors, cities can utilize these tools to create datasets. Being able to take the real-time data and further develop it is also a tool that can be monetized as well (Click here to learn more about these opportunities).


  • Collaborate with current partners and see if they are interested in the current data that the city already holds. Most partners are looking for more information for business needs and this could develop more streams of revenue (Click here for more information).  


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