Opening Up London’s Environmental Data
Today marks the publication on the London Datastore of an unprecedented amount of information detailing the state of London’s environment, published as raw data for the first time in the same place. This ‘Green datastore’ covers a wide range of subject areas such as waste, water, air quality, energy and wildlife using statistics published by the capital’s foremost environmental organisations including City Hall, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
We know London faces considerable environmental challenges, not least in the form of climate change and a growing population. The Mayor, Boris Johnson is also determined to ensure that we bring the best of the village into the city. In my role as the Mayor’s director of the environment and digital London, I firmly believe that that releasing our data in this way will deliver new and inventive ways to help us tackle these issues and improve our city’s quality of life in this way.
The Mayor and our partners are doing as much as we can as policy-makers to protect and preserve London’s environment. But Londoners must also play a vital role. Opening up the reams of data we hold is one important way we can empower people to make changes in their own lives and demand action from public bodies. Information should never just be the preserve of institutions or a limited elite. This latest set of environmental data provides a cyber snapshot of our city that can now be analysed, interpreted and assessed by anyone.
We are already seeing the potent power of new digital applications designed to improve the physical environment. Earlier this year the Mayor launched ‘Love Clean London’ an application compatible with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7. This app aims to encourage citizen activism, by empowering people report graffiti and other ‘grime crimes’ by uploading photos, utilising GPS and Cloud technology to prompt clean up action from their local authority. A wave of fantastic new apps are also helping Londoners access greener transport options, not least as a result of data flowing from the Mayor’s bike hire scheme. We also have in London a successful AirText service which utilises mobile phone technology to keep people informed about episodes of air pollution.
The transition to a low carbon economy offers some of the greatest economic opportunities for a generation. And there are obvious collaborations now possible following the information revolution that we have witnessed over the past decade. We can expect new businesses, brands and markets to emerge that fuse new technology with a desire to promote a better a quality of life in cities. The growing army of world-class developers in London are set to be at the heart of this. Today is an important step in unleashing this huge potential.
Mayor’s Director of the Environment and Digital London