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Getting to know Brussels through open data

Getting to know Brussels through open data

Knowing the nearest WIFI hotspot and bike-sharing station, or the traffic situation can save you a lot of time and energy

Many definitions of a smart city and smart governance exist, but there is one thing that unites them all and it is called data. The ability of cities to collect real time information through technology and use it to improve planning and to adapt the services offered is of vital importance. And just like cities, citizens also need data to make the best decisions in big urban areas, with numerous alternatives for mobility, work and leisure, where different lifestyles and actors enter in conflict. The willingness of cities to provide the data at their disposal to the public is probably the ultimate guarantee for trust and transparency. It certainly does make a difference to know when and where to expect traffic, to easily get a taxi or how and where you can dispose of your waste. So, let us explore Brussels - one of the busiest European capitals - by its open data.

The open data portal of Brussels City currently offers 546 datasets. The top three in terms popularity are related to mobility and money. First, rent-a-bike stations. If you need a bicycle, you can rent one from one of 352 Villo! Stations. The map of the region indicates the number of bicycle stands, their address and vehicle availability in real time. The second most popular dataset shows 108 available ATMs and the third one gives information on the the Collecto stops (the 7-days a week taxi service of Brussels).

villo station Brussels

Further ahead, a must-have for every visitor to a new city is probably internet. According to the data set, free wireless connection is provided at 212 hotspots on the territory of Brussels Capital Region. Tourism paths dedicated to Comics, Street art, Theatres, Museums, the location of some 31 public toilets, as well as traffic situation or air pollution graphs are likely to be useful to visitors and locals alike.

There is something in for those active in the local affairs – City Council and Communal Council meetings are livestreamed on the portal. Sustainable living enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the map of 93 collection points for reuse and repair of goods.

Albeit there are some quite unusual datasets to share with the public (such as the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers for the municipal pages in social media), they are rather useful overall. Furthermore, users can register and save their preferred maps.

All numbers are valid as of 10.9.2019. For more details, use keyword search and find your needed dataset on



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