For the SODA organizing committee, the primary goal was to promote open data; innovations and solutions came only second. Whereas for many other cities, their focus was on using SODA’s crowdsourcing model to solve problems. Open data was secondary. But does it have to be either/or? Is it possible to strike a better balance between the two?
Shanghai Open Data Apps, or SODA, is a contest launched in 2015. The acronym is a perfect analogy for what this challenge is about: Data is like soda in the bottle. Usually they sit quietly in the bottle. But once you open it, bubbles of innovation will be sizzling and bursting, carrying tremendous amount of energy. And this is exactly what SODA has managed to do. The themes of the challenge for the last two years were “Smart Transport” and “City Safety”. Working with 30 government agencies and companies, SODA unlocked 64 datasets totaling 4TB of data and designed 852 data innovation apps covering a wide range of areas including transport, finance, and public security.