Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
Thinking about data as critical infrastructure is key to London’s future success – but how can business play its part and feed into the debate?
5 August 2020
In the 20 years since TFL came into being to coordinate elements of London’s critical infrastructure, what businesses understand by the term ‘critical infrastructure’ has markedly changed. As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, many businesses now rely on digital infrastructure as much as physical infrastructure to function. On a strategic level, insights generated by the flow of data through this infrastructure form part of almost every successful business plan or public policy proposal. But what does the future hold for London’s use of data and how can business feed into the discussions shaping the city’s approach to this resource?
In those 20 years the flow of data from the online world has become a flood, with more data being generated in a 2020 day than in the whole of human history up until the year 2000. Already the public sector’s admirable commitment to open data has seen London’s policy makers benefit from a better understanding of the city and the impact of their work. London First was a strong advocate for the creation of the post of Chief Data Officer, currently Theo Blackwell MBE, to provide strategic leadership around digital transformation and convene public sector data holders; it established a powerful coordination point. But most of the data that holds useful insights for the city lies with the private sector behind corporate walls. To unlock that data and realise its potential to improve the lives of Londoners and support the city’s recovery from Covid-19, we need a coordinating body to provide leadership and direction but also critically one that links the public and private sectors.
Just as TfL provided the impetus for the coherent development of London’s transport infrastructure in the 21st century we need to be thinking about DfL – Data for London – with a new Data for London Board to bring together the public and private sectors, backed by a transparent Data Charter for London to drive coherent improvement in the way the city manages and uses its data. Since 2019, London First, along with the Oliver Wyman Forum, Arup and Microsoft, have been collaborating with GLA and others on the London Data Commission, with the aim of developing a framework for a world-leading data first approach to solving urban challenges. Part of this work was using data to respond to strategic challenges like those posed by Covid-19, by supporting the GLA and the Turing Institutes’ efforts to map busyness in the capital for example – but this is just the start of the positive impacts anonymised public and private data sharing can achieve.
The London Data Commission launches its proposals for how London’s data should be coordinated, shared, governed and protected in September, but you can find out more here. We’ll also be taking forward the conversation at the London Infrastructure Summit, on October 21, where Theo will be discussing data as critical infrastructure and the lessons of the Covid-19 response, with London’s business leaders. We hope you can join the discussions.
Share this page
Join our Mailing List