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Could data be the rocket fuel of London’s recovery?
9 March 2021
Amongst the Chancellor’s many announcements in last week’s Budget, the prominence of digital skills within the key ‘Help to Grow’ scheme, was significant. Despite some disappointment over the slowing of the gigabit fibre network roll out, the Budget suggests there’s increasing recognition of the central role the tech sector, data analysis and digital infrastructure will play in the recovery. It’s something those planning London’s renewal have been quick to recognise.
The Mayor’s Recovery Programme is an inspiring vision — meeting the commitments to overcome the economic scaring of COVID-19 and address London’s longstanding inequalities will only be possible with a better use of the city’s data. The specific ‘Missions’ to deliver elements of the Programme have been shaped by the insights generated by the London Data Store, which is already an exceptional resource. To help complete these Missions, policy-makers will need fine grain, real time insights gleaned from analysis of ever greater amounts of the city’s data. London’s businesses are currently supporting efforts to tackle specific challenges, like mapping the spread of COVID, but there remain significant hurdles if the full potential of the city’s data is to be unlocked.
Data for London (DfL) is working to turn this willingness to do more with data into a framework that will remove some of the fiction when it comes data sharing, via the adoption of common standards. The framework will be fully transparent about protecting people’s right to privacy and data security. The detail of the framework is taking shape, with a London Data Charter as a core component. The Charter aims to be part of the operational DNA for new types of data sharing platforms that will exist between organisations in the public and private sectors. These platforms will promote real time sharing of data sets backed by clear principles and MOUs that will provide comprehensive guarantees to anonymity and compliance with the highest standards of data handling.
So what could this achieve? One of the main inspirations for DfL were discussions around how insights from data sharing can make life better for Londoners and how with smarter decisions the interventions government makes could lead to a more equitable, greener and prosperous city. Our programme has been designed to mesh with city hall’s objectives not just for the economy but in solving the perennial challenges facing the city that sit at the core of the Mayor’s Missions. Challenges like improving air quality and bridging the digital divide that prevents everyone equally accessing the opportunities the digital economy generates.
Equally, we must not ignore the long-term economic gains and opportunities that data aggregation can unlock. In creating a world leading data ecology within the city, London could be best placed to originate, shape and benefit from the latest digital innovations and commercial opportunities – the silicon roundabout could become the silicon city. We aim for the London Data Charter to be an important next step in unleashing data sharing’s transformative potential whilst showing how data sets can both be ‘open’ and fiercely protective of personal information.
Find out more about this ongoing work programme and how to get involved.
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