Smart buildings and smart infrastructure in tomorrow's cities will offer new data that we've never had access to before. A big job lays in front of us - managing and using the data for better places to live.

Imagine knowing exactly what types of people are walking down a certain street on any given day. Do most of those people visit the coffee shop or the weed shop? Are they millennials or boomers? Do they shop at Nordstrom’s or are they more Endless Knot kind of people?

Information like that could drive decisions on where to place retail stores, restaurants and even office space and multifamily housing.

The more a business knows about the habits of passers-by, the better it can be positioned to be where the buyers already exist. That is just one of the amazing uses of data mining that is becoming available in “smart cities” such as Seattle.

SkipStone President A-P Hurd sees all this data becoming available as a boon to both businesses and consumers. “I think there are interesting things happening in that space,” Hurd said.

“To me, it’s about figuring out when the next bus is coming, finding your car-to-go, finding out which restaurant is around you and if your friends are already in that restaurant,” she said. “It’s a different way of understanding the city. Rather than walking around observing ... the exterior with your eyes, this data lets you see the city on a deeper level.”

On a recent road trip in southwest Washington, Hurd was traveling through an area with which she was unfamiliar. Rather than stopping at a restaurant visible from the road, she and her group were able to look through online information for other options.

Through information available online, they found a local restaurant they never would have known about if they had been relying only on what they could see from the road. This exemplifies the beginning of the changes that will come from having such information accessible and available.

In many ways, Seattle is ahead of this trend. The city already collects data and makes it available.

“I think we are just in the beginning of companies using data provided by cities and governments,” Hurd said. “One of the factors that will shape that is how good governments are at getting the information out.”

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