Small steps towards a London Office of Data Analytics?

The message was clear and a show of hands required: 5 boroughs willing to take part in a pilot project with ourselves and Nesta to demonstrate the benefits of a London Office of Data Analytics (LODA).

This was the ask of Andrew Collinge (AD of the GLA’s Intelligence Unit) and Eddie Copeland (Director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab) at last week’s London Borough Data Partnership meeting held at Nesta‘s HQ in Holborn. The agenda attracted our largest audience to date, with 26 out of the 33 boroughs represented and a room full with 60+ attendees: a reflection of the growing enthusiasm for London’s Government to work together and harness the power of this City’s untapped data.

An approach to this was set-out in Eddie’s presentation on LODA. Learning lessons from the success of New York’s Bloomberg administration, Eddie articulated the approach and benefits taken to city data analysis by New York’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA). Points he raised in an open letter to the Mayor’s successor following the elections on 5 May. To demonstrate this potential, Nesta and GLA are inviting Boroughs to take part in a 100-day pilot to test whether a LODA could help open data, provide new insights and trial new approaches to service delivery. The proposal recieved a postive response in the meeting and we’ll keep readers posted on our progress via this blog.

Excitment about LODA led nicely into Andrew’s overview of the City Data Strategy. Launched last month, the Strategy describes London’s current data landscape, sets out the challenges ahead and identifies a series of actions that will see us develop a dynamic and productive City Data Market.  Learning from the LODA pilot above will certainly provide valuable lessons that can help scale this up to a City-wide level.

A few key slides from the day:

Boroughs are of course doing lots of work in this area already, an example of which was succinctly demonstrated by Sarah Dougan (Deputy Director at Camden Public Health) who explained how Islington was taking a Borough-wide approach to data sharing/analysis activities and had ambitous plans to link their service user data across the organisation. Importantly, an initiative driven from the very top of their organisation.

Following a brief overview of the Cabinet Office Data Science Accelerator programme I’m currently involved in (more info can be found in the slides below), we finished the meeting with an interactive session asking: What users’ would require from a City Datastore platform?

Work on building the technical infrastructure to support much of the work set out in the City Data Strategy or, indeed a LODA, is already underway. The purpose of this session was to find out what practical benefits such as system could offer LBDP members and ensure these were fed into the projects scope. Lots of information was captured on numerous post-it notes, all of which have been taken back to the office for us to work through – thanks again to all those who participated!

As always, please do get in touch to hear more about any of the above or if you think we could help with any data sharing project. A set of all the slides from the day are here (.pdf).