Data APIs, essential in the development of smart cities
What role can a bank play in urban management? Can it contribute in any way to its traditional financial function? The answer is yes. In this article we explain how data APIs, and specifically Paystats, are driving the advance toward smart cities.
The enormous volumes of data generated by a bank such as BBVA in its daily activity—on the real transactional movements of citizens—are a new source of information to better understand the socio-economic interactions that occur in the city.
They make it possible to find out in detail how citizens and tourists are using the services according to their lifestyle or origin, where they go or in what time slots they do so. Information that helps generate a dynamic vision of cities, their areas, inhabitants and needs.
But how? Thanks to 'APIfication' process, in which BBVA has been working for some time, whereby transactional data is opened and converted into aggregate, anonymized, useful and accessible information to third parties. Those responsible for making it possible are data APIs, which, combined with other available sources, enable the creation of new business models, boost the economy and optimize decision-making—since they do not reflect intentions, but provide evidence—.
The Paystats data API, from BBVA API_Market
Paystats is a BBVA API_Market API that offers aggregated and anonymous statistics of millions of transactions made with BBVA cards and any other BBVA POS bank to create a virtual map that allows us to analyze consumer habits, among other variables.
Cities are the physical support of its inhabitants and their activities, which in many cases involve payments and leave behind a fingerprint. Paystats allows you to read this footprint when recording the data on electronic payments and cash withdrawals at ATMs, which, analyzed in an aggregate way, give a measure of a territory's pulse and prosperity. In addition, among other utilities, it makes it possible to find out the impact of events of different magnitude, the remodeling of an urban space, the transport networks or the differences in legislation concerning store opening times.
This API's database dates back to 2014 and the searches are made on a specific geographic area (postal code, census section or defined area of 500 meters by 500 meters), with several filtering criteria: age, gender, origin, peak and off-peak consumption times, store category, etc. The data is offered anonymously and aggregated, so that the customer's identity is completely protected.
Its usefulness is summarized by three key components:
- Volume and dynamism of the data
Paystats agglutinates the information of millions of transactions, offering representative samples that extrapolate to the whole population. The transactions are recorded with the day, time and place where they were made, allowing for temporary and dynamic analysis.
- Data enrichment
The date, time or place parameters are enriched with other variables such as age, gender or origin, which allow for advanced segmentation and behavior comparisons between different types or segments of citizens.
- API query services
'API-ing' information, as Paystats does, has great advantages over other systems in terms of accessibility, scalability, speed and flexibility. In addition, to increase the versatility of its use, the Paystats download version has been developed, that makes it easier for the information to be integrated with data viewing tools such as GIS systems.
There is no doubt that APIs are facilitating the development of smart cities, with outstanding examples in cities such as Barcelona and New York. The role that private companies can assume to promote them and generate positive results in their environment is to open their data and provide access mechanisms to them.
Application Programming Interfaces such as Paystats allow actionable information to be channeled toward those that can use it to serve the common good: to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of cities, as well as the quality of life of its inhabitants.
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