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London plots next data-driven steps as Datastore turns 10

A new report examines how the city’s data collection and sharing should evolve and build on the success of the City Hall’s free and open data-sharing platform.

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Khan has called for a vision of a digitally powered city where data helps to solve key challenges
Khan has called for a vision of a digitally powered city where data helps to solve key challenges

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a new vision of a digitally powered city where data is put to work to help to solve some of the most urgent challenges facing the UK capital.

 

The mayor’s message comes as the London Datastore, set up by City Hall to share free and accessible data about the capital, marks its 10th anniversary.

 

Trustworthy data system

 

To modernise the city’s approach to data, City Hall has collaborated with the Open Data Institute (ODI) – an organisation which works with the public and private sector to help build an open, trustworthy data system – to publish a report outlining how the Datastore can evolve over the next decade.

 

The report examines how the city’s data collection and sharing should evolve and build on the success of the City Hall’s free and open data-sharing platform.

 

Since 2010, the “huge amount” of freely available data about the capital has been used to tackle some of London’s most important challenges, such as easing road congestion and improving air quality.

 

City Hall reports the platform currently has around 60,000 users each month and is home to more than 6,000 datasets (up from around 500 when it was launched in 2010), ranging from population estimates to rough sleeping figures and international visitor numbers.

 

“The next step is to create a shared approach for the city so we can all benefit from the innovation this will bring.”

 

According to City Hall, London’s population is expected to grow to nearly 11 million by 2050 and data, such as that available via the Datastore, will become even more important as it works with its partners to positively impact Londoners’ lives.

 

“By responsibly opening up a huge amount of data held by our public sector partners and working with London’s brilliant tech sector, we’re helping tackle some of the most urgent challenges facing our city as it grows,” said Khan.

 

“The next step is to create a shared approach for the city so we can all benefit from the innovation this will bring – while using the data we hold on Londoners’ behalf transparently, safely and securely.”

 

City Hall’s developers have used the data to create a range of maps and applications, including:

  • London Rents Map, which 85,000 Londoners used last year to help them find an affordable home
  • Schools Atlas, a tool for parents selecting schools for their children
  • Cultural Infrastructure Map, which helps people enjoy and preserve music venues, studios and community halls in their neighbourhoods
  • a range of air quality mapping using data from a network of sensors showing Londoners pollution levels in their local areas, as well as prioritising new electric bus routes.

“We recommend improving the platform by making data easier to find, as well as engaging people to prioritise which datasets to add.”

 

The new ODI report contains recommendations on how to improve the platform, including:

  • revamping and expanding the London Datastore
  • ensuring the Datastore is central to wider efforts to increase the amount and quality of data available across London
  • making the platform as easy to use as possible.

It also recommends developing a new approach to sharing civic data from City Hall. This will be led by London’s chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell, and will bring together councils, universities, the public sector, businesses and Londoners.

 

Insights and learnings

 

“In our report on the opportunities for the London Datastore in the future, we recommend improving the platform by making data easier to find, as well as engaging people to prioritise which datasets to add, and showcasing how data can be used to derive insights and learnings which in turn can help improve the lives of Londoners,” said Olivier Thereaux, head of technology at the Open Data Institute and the report’s lead author.

“We also recommend that the datastore team at GLA take on a greater role as trusted guide and steward to the data community, by documenting best practices, championing standards and facilitating collaboration around data.”

 

In December 2019, business organisation London First launched the London Data Commission, which will complement the work on city data underway at the Greater London Authority and London Councils. 

  

It will also aim to ensure that over the next 10 years, businesses work with the public sector to unleash the potential of data to help solve the big issues for London. It is due to report during this year’s London Tech Week in June 2020.

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