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Pandemic highlights urgent need for data-led solutions to London’s challenges
9 September 2020
London Data Commission, led by London First, Microsoft, Oliver Wyman Forum, and Arup, has developed new ‘Data for London’ framework
This new framework would transform cities in the same way that Transport for London has improved public transport
Precarious economic recovery can be boosted by harnessing power of anonymised data between public and private sectors
Pilot schemes on electric vehicles, digital education, and resilience have already kicked off
If London is to successfully tackle city-wide challenges, like COVID-19, and safeguard its precarious economic recovery, it must urgently make much better use of the data it generates. The first major report from the London Data Commission — led by business campaign group London First, Microsoft, Oliver Wyman Forum and Arup and featuring experts from public and private sectors bodies — outlines a number of future pilots with the potential to harness the power of data to support the rollout of electric vehicles, the delivery of digital education, the creation of smarter neighbourhoods and improve resilience to future disruption.
In a new report, Data for London, the Commission calls for an ambitious framework to be introduced to establish an internationally leading data sharing platform for London, alongside a charter to protect individuals’ privacy and ensure a commitment from data owners to work together in providing smart solutions to London’s challenges. Data for London would help transform cities in the same way that Transport for London has improved public transport in the last 20 years.
The city generates vast amounts of data, but it is fragmented across multiple organisations and much of it sits behind corporate walls. The vast majority is never looked at despite the invaluable insights it contains. The risk of missing the opportunity and limitless potential that data-led projects can provide to positively impact our lives is stark.
As the Mayor of London works towards his ambition to make the capital ‘the smartest city in the world,’ the Commission calls for a new way of thinking about data, as a vital shared asset for the capital, with Data for London as a new coordination point – helping ensure anonymised data is only used for the benefit of London and Londoners.
Commenting, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, said:
“London produces huge amounts of anonymised data that for too long has been squirreled away in businesses, never to see the light of day. While concerns over privacy are understandable, the pandemic has shown the vital role data can play in coordinating responses at a city-level – for example, on the busy times of day for public transport.
“The potential for data-led projects to positively impact our lives, from public health and education to transport, is limitless. We can no longer ignore the economic and social benefits that data-led transformation can bring. That’s why we’re launching new pilots in electric vehicles, digital education, and smarter neighbourhoods, which will harness the power of data to improve the lives of Londoners.”
The Commission has published four key recommendations:
Convene a London Data Board to boost the use of data currently available in London and support the creation of an internationally leading city data platform, to bring together anonymised data from the public, private and third sector to deliver clearer insights into the city’s challenges.
Establish the first London Data Charter to safeguard the anonymity and security of data from individuals and businesses, and maintain the highest standards of data management and transparency.
Pioneer Data Innovation Challenges to promote the use cases and testing of new data technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twinning, blockchain and analytics, and help ensure these innovations benefit all Londoners.
Find new ways to Collaborate With Others, by providing a strong and coherent voice for London in discussions with government and other cities about how the city can benefit from the use of its data.
The London Data Commission also started work on four first wave data-sharing pilots to demonstrate the value of private and public sector collaboration:
Developing insights into our future infrastructure needs to support the rapid uptake of electric vehicles.
Transforming the way digital education is delivered by spotlighting the individual needs of distinct geographic areas within the city.
Creating smarter neighbourhoods that use data to unlock local economic development and employment opportunities.
Unlocking data led solutions to the key challenges facing London as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic – including how the city can improve its resilience to future threats.
The London Data Commission will formally come to a close this month to be replaced by a new standing working group to oversee the delivery of the pilots. It will continue to work with the Chief Digital Officer for London, Theo Blackwell his team to deliver London Data Board and develop the London Data Charter.
Isabel Dedring, Global Transport Leader at Arup, added:
“London has a strong track record of being at the forefront in tackling many of society’s greatest challenges. By looking holistically across public and private sector data for the first time, we can start to address some of the most intractable urban issues. This includes bringing inclusive neighbourhoods to life, building a more equitable city and understanding movement across all modes to drive greener mobility. Data is the next frontier for making cities fairer and greener, and London is positioned perfectly to be a pioneer.”
Cindy Rose, Microsoft UKCEO, added:
“While London’s economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic, we have an opportunity to emerge stronger with a recovery based on data and AI. Across every industry, and especially in healthcare, we’ve seen how better data leads to better execution and results. New ideas, approaches and businesses will emerge when private and public information is brought together. Through our work with the London Data Commission and The Alan Turing Institute, we are supporting the development of a world-leading urban data platform to assess and understand how Londoners respond to public health measures such as social distancing as well as mapping the strength of the recovery across our city. As we enter the next stage of this crisis, I’d urge every leader to consider what data they might contribute to the project to rebuild our economy in a sustainable and inclusive way.”
John Romeo, Managing Partner and CEO of the Oliver Wyman Forum, added:
“London is taking a different approach to data, one which will help us become the smartest city in the world.
“We are not staring into vast lakes of data looking for trends and correlations. This does not give a deep understanding of what needs to be done differently. Instead we are starting with the city’s toughest problems and then identifying what data we need to solve them – from multiple sources across the public and private sectors. It is a much more targeted and effective approach.
“Our London Data Commission pilots have proven that we can break down barriers between public and private sector data sharing for the greater good of the city. This is giving us the insights we need to shape London into a healthier, smarter, and more equal city for everyone.”
Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, added:
“Our aim at City Hall is to realise potential of city data to solve challenges facing Londoners by putting it in the hands of those who can make a difference.
“Better joined-up data across the public and private sectors is essential because no one organisation or sector has a monopoly on useful data. The London Data Commission shows that collaboration is not only possible, but immensely beneficial to support the city’s recovery.”
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