Developing Data Infrastructure for London

Earlier this year we published the Implementation Plan for the GLA’s City Data Strategy. The Implementation Plan is a key organising element of our work, needed for the realisation of the priority actions we have set out in our strategy, all of which are designed to help us to deliver maximum social, economic, environmental and financial value from city data. As such, it provides a clear view of the links between the various tasks and priorities for action across the near, medium and long term.

As we move from strategy to implementation, we want to transform current data management and exploitation practices to create a city data economy that is less fragmented than today. In one sense, this sounds like simple and obvious stuff, but this is a deeply complex strategy, and it is at this point that we start to get into the city data infrastructure required to make this possible.

So here we present the next level of detail for the technology road map part of Implementation Plan – the steps that across the near and medium term will take us from a data catalogue to the urban operating platform we know the city needs. It will need to evolve as we work with partners whilst following these core principles:

  1. There will be a federation of data stores / warehouses rather than a single data store for all of London’s data. Because of the complexity, it is highly improbable there will ever be a single data warehouse. However, a secure means to discover and share data with specific individuals or groups will support analytics and improved service delivery.
  2. We will work towards a cloud-based system.
  3. What we build needs to anticipate and allow for the exploitation of new sources of data, including sensor data from the Internet of Things and linked data.
  4. Referencing data rather than duplicating it – where practical we will refer to the original source data rather than making copies in our pursuit of ‘one universal truth’.
  5. We are committed to the active exchange of knowledge and experience between public organisations across UK and further afield.
  6. We will continue to make use of and contribute to the open source community.

So, across 5 key stages and 2 years…

City DataStore – Phase 1 (the here and now)
The current version of the London Datastore is a high quality catalogue of various static and non-standardised data files, available for manual download. It also contains a limited number of datasets available for API requests. Work has also started on the automated harvesting of Open Data from partners.

1

City DataStore– Phase 2 (Alpha)
Central to this phase is a deep review of our current systems. This will be shortly followed by an Alpha build of a City DataStore (providing a private version of the Open DataStore).

The Alpha build will contain a simple API and hold as a minimum key London-wide datasets used by GLA for analysis. Issues such as security, types of data, authentication of users and search will have been tackled. Through partnerships with Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the LODA pilot London Boroughs and others we will test the secure exchange of data and begin to build a ‘federation’ of data stores.

2

City DataStore– Phase 3 (Q2/2017)
This phase will entail trial standards and license models for city data and further developments of the API based on our experiences in Phase 2. We will assess the quality of our datasets and identify the ones with greatest potential for commercial models. Finally, where needed and appropriate we will support partners with technical, legal and data science support to extend the range of datasets and organisations.

3

Data for London – Phase 4 (Q4/2017)
This phase will entail fully integrating the WITAN and the Sharing Cities project into our infrastructure, and will provide APIs for real time open data consumption, tools for data publication, visualisation and manipulation.

4

Data for London – Phase 5 (Q2/2018)
This final phase will consolidate the integration of the platforms and services provided in previous phases, and will put in place the right standards and technology, and commercial models for city data exploitation. We will deliver scalable and reliable technologies to ensure that our data infrastructure is ready to meet future challenges and the increased demand for integrated city data and services.

5

If you want to work with us the implementation plan of the “Data for London” please contact Andrew Collinge andrew.collinge@london.gov.uk, Larissa Suzuki larissa.suzuki@london.gov.uk or Paul Hodgson paul.hodgson@london.gov.uk.