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How business can help kick-start data-led solutions to London’s housing, transport and skills challenges
19 December 2019
London is on the frontlines of managing some of the UK’s greatest challenges – the societal issues that will define the liveability, environment and success of our country for the next generation. However, we are equally fortunate as Londoners to reside in a city that is renowned internationally for its ability to develop and deliver some of the most innovative and progressive policy solutions:
We have a proud history of being a world leader in congestion charging which has changed behaviour and shaped the type of London where we want to live, work and play.
We have led the way in providing open data, allowing the ingenuity and creativity of the private sector to develop apps like City Mapper that have changed the way we move.
We continue to develop and implement new standards for improving the quality of the air we breathe and limit the emissions we produce, for the sake of our future generations.
London is a city of many success stories, but also a city that recognises the challenges we face are becoming ever more complex. Our challenges require more co-operative, collaborative and integrated solutions. The Mayor and other public-sector organisations provide strong leadership but we, as private-sector organisations, increasingly appreciate our growing role and responsibility to help deliver innovative solutions for our city. Co-operating, collaborating and integrating across the public and private-sector to deliver solutions for our cities requires us to find better ways to share our knowledge, our insights, our data.
The importance of improving our data ecosystem
The value and importance of data is well understood by private sector organisations and as a result has been carefully curated, guarded and sometimes traded as a commodity between organisations. However, the value and the insights the data we already collect provides, can help answer far more questions than one organisation can imagine or is even interested in answering. When we combine, connect or overlay data from different sources, public and private, we can provide clear insight into complex multi-disciplinary challenges — the types of challenges London is facing.
The desire and willingness to share data for the betterment of our city exists, the challenge is how it can be enabled and facilitated.
The London Data Commission
We at Arup, are extremely excited to be partnering with London First and Oliver Wyman to convene a London Data Commission. This commission of public, private and non-governmental stakeholders will extract some of the best creativity and thought leadership from our city to improve the data sharing ecosystem across London.
At our inaugural roundtable, earlier this month, we asked commissioners to help us understand how data could assist London to better confront its people, place and connectivity challenges. The answer was clear, there are a myriad of challenges that we could better tackle if organisations were able to more easily share the data they already collect.
Among many questions, our roundtables explored pressing London challenges like: how we can reduce the digital skills gap, how we can better understand the energy demands of our built environment and how we can limit the impact of freight congestion on our transport network.
We learned the barriers preventing organisations from sharing more of their data are not just the big issues of privacy, ethics and trust — which we all recognise need significant consideration and thought — but also some of the more practical challenges of how, where and in what form. Questions of governance, process and platforms came to the fore.
These initial discussions of the London Data Commission have already provided us with several very interesting insights that deserve further consideration and exploration. Furthermore, and perhaps most excitingly, this commission has begun facilitating long overdue conversations among private-sector organisations as well as their public-sector counterparts on how we can work together to transform London’s data ecosystem and tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our city.
We look forward to sharing more with you on the London Data Commission as this exciting initiative continues in the new year.
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