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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

London’s Open Data Powering Action on Climate Change

On the 18 June – Live Earth day – the GLA Environment Unit partnered in Climathon: the 24-hour hackathon-style climate change event organised by Climate-KIC that took place simultaneously in major cities around the world, including London.

So why did the Environment Unit get involved? We have already seen the value of ‘data hacks’ when we ran our own back in 2012. This generated some great digital service responses to London’s environmental challenges – but what didn’t happen was the development of a solution that was rolled out and achieved meaningful and sustainable impact.

What Climathon was focused on is supporting citizens around the world to take direct climate action in their cities by working on innovative solutions to local climate change challenges. In December 2015, the Climathon results will be featured as part of Climate-KIC’s and the GLA’s efforts during the UN’s COP21 climate change conference.

We were best placed to help the hackers understand what London’s climate change challenges are. Energy and waste were the two sectors we focussed on: How can we reduce London’s emissions through shifting 20% of peak demand, and increasing distributed solar power, by 2020; and reducing waste in London through technology enabled circular economy.

London’s datastore was a star of the hack, providing a data rich access point for the hackers. In time for the hack we released the first significant tract of “City Data” on London Datastore. UK Power Networks have posted 167 million rows of data (as such it can be considered ‘big data’) gathered as a result of their involvement in the Low Carbon London programme.

This data release represents a significant opportunity to show that City Government can exploit city data – to move from an open data publishing model, to one which is based around exploitation and driving meaningful value from it.

So, after 24 intense hours of collaboration, excitement and solution-finding, the best ideas in each city were selected by a jury consisting of relevant local stakeholders. Those ideas are being worked up and refined so expect a second post on those solutions in the coming weeks.

Daniel Barrett (Principal Policy & Programme Officer, GLA Environment Unit)