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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

A City Data Market Strategy: creating a Knowledge Infrastructure for London

The modern city should provide an environment in which information flows rapidly and easily, making of itself a platform for both the dissemination and active consumption of innovation to improve the way it works and peoples’ lives. It needs to. Every day nearly 180,000 people move to cities, creating more than 60 million new urban dwellers every year.

London is no exception. The capital has to plan for population growth, and introduce a more sustainable, efficient, and liveable model in urban development. The city needs intelligent and cost-efficient solutions that will provide Londoners with a high quality of life while meeting its ambitious sustainability agenda.

Modern digital technologies offer the chance to create a balance between social, environmental, and economic opportunities that will be delivered through smart city planning, design, and construction. The current proliferation of technologies, open data initiatives, and user generated content is already generating a massive amount of data. It follows that the systems operating London’s physical infrastructure need to become as tightly integrated as they can be, able to draw effectively on a vast supply of cross-domain ‘city‘ data.

So it seems that we are about to enter into a new era of data exploitation, and one which requires a more strategic and outcomes-oriented approach – what we for now are calling a City Data Market Strategy.

I am completing my PhD in Computer Science at UCL (Computer Science) / Imperial College Business School (Digital City Exchange) so it is now my job to work with the London Datastore Team and other city data stakeholders to bring my thinking into practice and reality by developing this strategy. Through it we want to create a means of marshalling this thing called city data that is produced by a multitude of systems, devices and applications, and whose logistical distribution varies according to its suppliers, their sectors, its distribution channels, and the policies and regulations to which it is subjected.

This is a significant step up from the largely static publishing model on which the London Data Store has based so much of its success. Through more deliberate orchestration of open and proprietary data provided by both public and private sectors, and through addressing privacy and trust issues in relation to volunteered citizen data, we think we can transform the existing London Datastore into a data infrastructure and marketplace ready for the data explosion that the Internet of Things will bring about.

As is so often the case, it is the non-technological elements – business models, value networks, feedback loops, a data marketplace, clear licensing arrangements, and more efficient data governance – that will prove just as crucial as the technical domains such as data interoperability and open standards. This short project will deliver a complete and concise business model and a reference architecture which covers all the aspects of a data infrastructure (service, technology, organisation, value and governance) and serves the needs of the stakeholders of urban data and technology.

These are not easy matters, so we will be publishing various of these building blocks on datastore for consultation and further development. We know that there is much to be done to create an environment in which the motives and incentives to increase availability and exploitation of city data are readily understood. Ultimately though, we recognise that the future in which city decision-makers can take advantage of unprecedented insights into how the city and its infrastructure functions is one that we simply must work towards.

If you want to get involved in our work, do please get in touch with either Larissa Suzuki <> / Andrew Collinge <>

Header image shows projected population change by ward 2015-2025.