This month marked the tenth anniversary of the London Datastore. If you’ve followed the publicity, you’ll be aware that it was one of the first open data platforms of its kind to be developed by a major city. It now offers around 6,000 datasets to 60,000 users a month: a testament to the pivotal role data plays in our city’s life.
London has every right to be proud of the progress it has made in the provision and use of data. The London Datastore is now able to support the secure sharing of closed, as well as open datasets. The Royal Borough of Greenwich is doing world-leading work to apply the Internet of Things to enable better living. Individual boroughs from Barking and Dagenham to Camden are using data analytics to improve their operations and services. Many blogs could be written about the dozens of amazing data initiatives currently in progress within the public, third and private sectors.
Yet the most exciting work is surely still to come.
You’d expect me to say this, but one exciting development has been the creation of the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI). LOTI was established to help boroughs bring the best of digital, technology and data to improve public services and outcomes for Londoners. Unlocking the value of London’s public sector data is firmly on our action plan.
While it’s incredibly positive that individual boroughs have been getting smarter with their use of data, we’ve argued that it’s not enough for them to do so alone.
Real progress requires data collaboration.
That’s for three main reasons. First, data delivers most value when it’s shared. Second, the nature of many of the city’s greatest challenges — from homelessness to air pollution and from congestion to violent crime — transcend borough boundaries. To address those challenges, our data must be able to transcend boundaries, too. Third, many of the smarter ways of working boroughs would like to enable: better targeting of their services; intelligently coordinating the actions of different teams; predicting and preventing problems, all depend on joining up London’s data jigsaw in specific domains.
In our first year, LOTI’s 16 boroughs have been working to make data collaboration easier. We’ve created a Joint Statement of Intent on Responsible Data Collaboration to spell out the principles we’ll adopt to use data for Londoners’ benefit. We’ve been working with Information Governance leads to standardise and enhance the way in which boroughs agree on the legal, ethical and security aspects of data collaboration. We’re looking to establish a Smart Street Infrastructure Working Group to ensure that boroughs use sensors in public settings in ways that engender citizen trust, and adopt common standards that allow us to gain insight from data at a pan-London level.
We’re now turning our attention to launching data collaboration projects aimed directly at improving services and outcomes for Londoners. Here, the London Datastore will play a vital role. If boroughs are to collaborate with their data, they need a trusted and secure place to share it. If we want to London to benefit from real-time data on air pollution, congestion, light and noise, we need a place to connect boroughs’ sensors via APIs. If we want to encourage innovation by external developers and increase knowledge and access by sharing data about London, its places, opportunities and people, we need a forum to do that. The London Datastore can offer all these things and more and it’s encouraging to see Arup, London First and the Oliver Wyman Foundation launch the London Data Commission and bring a business voice to the table.
LOTI, led by Paul Neville at Waltham Forest and Trevor Dorling from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, was pleased to take part in the ODI’s discovery on the future of the Datastore. We welcome the GLA’s commitment to investing in its development and we look forward to helping shape its future direction for the benefit of all Londoners.
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