Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
Harnessing data to tackle Covid-19 - Insights from America
12 August 2020
Bloomberg is known for using data and evidence, helping cities improve the lives of their residents and promoting public-private partnerships. Across the Bloomberg organization we often say, “In God we trust; everyone else bring data.”
This is why I was pleased to become part of the London Data Commission. The Commission looks to address similar goals and knows that using data is the best way to maintain a high quality of life and to ensure that London remains a global capital and an example for other cities around the world.
On the Commission, we began by looking at how we can work more collaboratively across the private and public sectors to improve the lives of Londoners through data. Bloomberg’s data driven approach meant we could make useful contributions to the discussions around how to apply global models, how to harness existing capabilities and importantly, how to measure impact.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the goals of the London Data Commission have become even more critical. London’s priority policy initiatives: housing, transport and skills remain perennially important to the city and the Commission. But it became immediately clear that we should consider how data could support London’s response to and recovery from the virus. For example, the Commission supported the GLA and Alan Turing Institute’s work to map the ‘busyness; of London in order to gauge the effectiveness social distancing measures.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has been deeply involved in developing its own global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, equipping mayors around the world with accurate data and up-to-date public health information; investing in leading research institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, to track the virus’ progression and jump start critical medical research; supporting the public health institutions of low and middle income countries; and making investments in major cities like New York and London where Bloomberg LP has headquarters. Specific data-driven initiatives include:
Contact tracing — Bloomberg Philanthropies with Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies have partnered with New York State and the surrounding region to provide contact tracing training and support.
Cities action tracker – a detailed database developed in collaboration with the national League of Cities, detailing the policy decisions and actions that city leaders are making to contain the spread of coronavirus and respond to community impact.
Now, as Europe and Asia focus largely on recovery and preparation for potential future waves of the virus and the Americas struggle with the first wave and deep economic impacts — data and evidence are proving essential to both response and recovery.
Long before the specter of the current pandemic, London spent the last decade proving the value of data – helping make London a global economic and cultural hub.
Having served the City of New York for six years, I know how hard it is to implement big ideas in government. London is very fortunate to have a lightning rod for data and digital at the Greater London Authority, Theo Blackwell – London’s Chief Digital Officer.
At the helm of the London Data Store, Theo is a member of the London Data Commission and also a partner on many initiatives with Bloomberg Associates, the philanthropic consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Aligning the theoretical work of the Commission with the practical demands of municipal government requires a strong plan, perseverance, and a lot of support.
Having revolutionized the public data discussion 10 years ago, the London Data Store has the opportunity to once again change the way city governments look at and think about data. Bloomberg Philanthropies and Public Digital have been working with Theo and his colleagues at the Greater London Authority to harness data as a service for London which will bring significant benefit to the people who live and work there.
London is doing things right and it is our hope that The London Data Commission will bring to bear the substantial resources of the private sector in London to accelerate this progress even further. Working together with local government, we can build trust through collaboration and transparency, to assure the best outcomes for people who live in London and cities around the world.