Data has never been more important to London

As London prepares for a new year in the shadow of the momentous disruptions created by Covid-19, one certainty is that data and data analytics have never been more important to the future success of the city.

This year we saw how the pandemic prompted the public and private sectors to come together to help ensure that London could base its response on the most accurate information possible, both to address immediate challenges and to understand its social and economic consequences. But we must keep up with this work.

Established last year to create smarter data-driven solutions to improve life in London, foster greater data sharing, and address city-wide issues like air quality, members of the London Data Commission worked hard to support the response to Covid-19 when this crisis developed.

By 2021, it is clear to us that open data sets or, in some cases, data that is not open but could be made available through a reliable and responsible data exchange framework, form the core of solutions for many of the urgent challenges posed by the disease. Beyond Covid-19, making better use of city data is vital both to keep people safe and to allow the city to prosper.

Pilot projects initiated by the commission continue to develop. We’ve already seen how data pooling can generate maps to better target the location of EV charging points, but next year we hope to improve the picture they provide by including additional types of new data and insights.

We have begun to model patterns of digital exclusion in new ways, but more data sets will allow us to provide increasingly precise and detailed profiles of different types of exclusion. Overall, this year we have seen the value of a mission-based approach to data sharing that ties in with clearly defined priorities and challenges.

The City Council has continued to support bold and forward-looking data initiatives. We have already seen decisive and effective leadership from London Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell in classifying the city’s public data in the London Data Warehouse.

We are pleased to work with them to bring the Commission’s proposed Data for London (DfL) framework to life. This is a framework to create a world-class data exchange platform to harness the potential of anonymized city data to better target public services, plan infrastructure, and identify opportunities for local growth or innovation.

Complying with the highest standards in data management, security and privacy safeguards are a central component of this project, as articulated in our proposal London data chart. Since we launched the report, the government and public agencies in London have taken a major step forward in the realization of this letter by adopting a Responsible Data Sharing Statement.

With the public sector side of the deal clear, it is time for the private sector to step up, and that is why we will focus over the next several months on developing the letter into a comprehensive document that sets out the rules of engagement for the public and private data collaboration.

In addition to recommendations on data sharing, we are clear that privacy-preserving technologies must be applied to sensitive data sets to ensure that data is kept private, while allowing London decision makers to gain vital new insights. . 2021 is likely to present a lot of debate about how people’s data is used after Covid; We hope that initiatives like the Charter can bring clarity and reassurance to anxious Londoners.

A hub for data innovation

Looking ahead to 2021, we cannot afford to ignore the tools and responses potentially at our disposal when it comes to Covid-19 or to help the city navigate the uncertainty generated by major transitions such as Brexit or the shift towards the target of zero net carbon.

We are pleased that the City Council has recently renewed its commitment to exchanging data between different parts of London government, as well as developing the London Datastore as the key platform and in collaborating with us to create a class-leading data exchange framework. world.

There will be many challenges facing the capital in 2021, the recovery from Covid-19 and action on the climate will be at the forefront. Cementing London’s place as a transparent and accountable global data innovation hub by establishing the DfL framework would be a good place to start.

One thing’s for sure: London businesses will stand by, ready to help in any way we can to unlock the potential of the city’s data.

David Lutton is London First’s Chief Competitiveness Officer.

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