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Recognise and unlock the value of London government sector data

18 minute read
If we want to strengthen the capacity of local councils of neighboring cities to have productive conversations on areas where they share task forces, assets and resources on issues of mutual interest, It would be useful to have data on how these issues arise on their common border.
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In 2013, When you are a beginner in research centers, I took my first steps in the strange and exciting world of digital government.

Then The following thought came to mind: While the process of changing the nature of the technology used by government sector institutions may take (towards setting common standards and establishing a culture of joint work, and turn the government into a platform, and many more), Two decades, Each institution has an abundant database, We can now scrutinize and exploit them to maximize their value.

I have long argued in my opinion that it is not enough for each organization to promote the exploitation of its data on its own. In order to achieve the desired goal.

This is for two reasons:

The first, Although data is not the panacea (see Tia Snow's recent article with a full explanation of why), Many of the smarter ways of working that government sector organizations are willing to adopt, Depends on data collaboration.

For example, If we want to strengthen the capacity of local councils of neighboring cities to have productive conversations on areas where they share task forces, assets and resources on issues of mutual interest, It would be useful to have data on how these issues arise on their common border.

If we want multiple institutions from the government sector to be able to coordinate their work in a regular, productive and coherent manner (which is essential in areas such as social welfare), They need data on the nature of the work of other institutions.

If we wish to enable prediction and prevention, or early forecasting and intervention, We need data that collectively identifies the cases with the greatest risk.

The second reason, Which is most importantly, That in a big and complex city like London, Challenges, opportunities and people's lives do not stop at the borders of a single administrative region, So does our data.

Connecting the threads together

Hindered by a range of factors, known, Data collaborations.

There are technical hurdles, as some legacy systems are incompatible with their newer counterparts. Data is difficult to pull from them. The lack of a common technical platform through which to share data is also an obstacle.

That's why Paul Neville at Waltham Forest and Trevor Dorling at Greenwich are making sure that the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) is involved in the exploration phase of the future of the open data store. In Greater London Municipality, Which will become the virtual data-sharing platform.

But most worryingly, is the costs that some IT service providers require from local authorities, Which is estimated at thousands of pounds, To extract the data of these authorities or design a user interface to link to them. I believe that no large service provider can claim to help the local government under these costs. Having written describing the practice as bad in 2013, I see it today as a totally unacceptable practice. At the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI), we use City Tools, To provide a better evidence base to see which systems provide the best value.

There are data obstacles. Records can be grouped according to different criteria, The lack of unique identifiers such as unique property reference numbers (UPRNs) makes it a difficult challenge to link records together.

There are cultural obstacles if organizations are not accustomed to relying on data to carry out their actions and decisions, So why bother to find this data in the first place?

There are skills obstacles, It is true that we need qualified data scientists, but, Effective data collaboration relies on more job roles from technical specialists to information management professionals, It is also useful for all employees to have at least a basic level of understanding how better data can enhance their activities.

Finally, There are real and perceived legal obstacles, The real ones exist for good reasons; there are things that the data should not be exploited to do. The perceived protrudes on two fronts, And it's more problematic than the real one.

First of all Some data initiatives that can provide real value to citizens never see the light of day, Because government sector employees assume that this cannot be done. secondly When each organization adopts a different approach to ensure that its data-sharing initiatives are carried out legally, ethically, and securely, This would cause delays that could extend for months or stop the start of implementation of projects of value.

For its part, The LTI boards recognise that tackling this problem is essential to laying the foundations for a successful future with data, That's why we worked with CIOs, information protection officers and information governance staff to create a common approach to information governance for boards.

In a project led by Ed Garcis and colleagues in Camden, We started by designing a seven-step information governance process, In it, we describe what needs to happen and who should be involved in each step.

We experimented with the Information Exchange Portal, a platform that digitizes and standardizes the process of developing information sharing agreements (ISAs). We are also exploring in depth the possibility of collaborating with the Greater Manchester Joint Municipality to launch an initiative in collaboration with the Funding and Co-Collaboration for Innovation platform CC2i, with the aim of creating a digital data privacy assessment.

A more strategic approach to open data

Much can be achieved with open data, This world began to focus on bringing transparency to the work of government.

However, Arguably, its greatest impact and future potential lies in the field of encouraging innovation.

Transport for London is a leading model in open data innovation. Transport for London's smart decision to release its Unified API, which provides real-time data that can be read by the device through its infrastructure and services, Instead of developing the applications themselves, to create more than 700 applications, products and services by external developers.

While much of this success is related to the fact that transport data fits the data in real time and has some obvious use cases that the user encounters (trip planning applications etc.), But it contains at least one important lesson for local government.

If we want to encourage real innovation, We have to release broadly open datasets.

Notably, developers need a larger potential customer base than residents of an area under only one local authority. To design a viable business model. In the absence of scope, Local authorities are likely to find their data best used by amateurs.
The need for expansion also comes from citizens.

For local authorities who place great importance on the needs of the user – including everyone who has signed the local digital advertisement – we must acknowledge that the user's need is not limited to residents of the towns, but also to residents of the capital London . While some services are local, Others will not, We don't expect the average person living in London to want to use 33 different parking apps. and so on.

In brief We need to have strategic dialogues on the nature of the data sets held by local government that must be issued consistently as open data at the London level. With the aim of providing the products, services and value desired by both residents and local authorities alike.

There are two ways to conduct these dialogues.

Data is a means, not an end. Therefore, Typically, it's better for us to think about what we'd like to be able to do that we can't currently achieve. Then explore what can help enable these things. For my part, I find the 100-Question Initiative launched by the Governance Lab effective in this regard: "If the 100 questions are answered, will it have a significant positive impact?" , and we can try to use this framework in London.

Instead (or maybe additionally), I think it's legitimate to ask if there are some datasets that are so fundamental to running a thriving modern city that they should be considered a vital "data infrastructure." We even use the phrase Foreign Development Institute.

I recently asked this question on Twitter, I have received many replies with many ideas.

Internet of Things

Similar questions and considerations can be important in enriching our thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT).

As the EU's Sharing Cities programme has shown, If implemented in a thoughtful manner, Devices that support IoT can deliver significant value to cities and their residents, This makes buildings more energy efficient and monitors traffic flow and air pollution, and so on.

But before the London councils started implementing this kind of smart infrastructure on the streets, I think we need to be clear that there is a future that we want to avoid entering. that each council should have access to its own IoT network and collect data according to inconsistent criteria that make it impossible to share, Not to mention the absence of citizens about the type of data collected and why.

In brief We want to solve problems and break down the data silos that we have experienced with legacy technological systems. To achieve this, We are currently testing a project with Nathan Pierce of Greater London and Ben Gward (Westminster, Kensington Council and Chelsea). See more details soon.

Put data in place

To recognize and address both the opportunities and challenges described in this article, The LTI boards are now working on a joint statement on responsible data sharing to define their ambitions, principles and handling of data. There are many factors to consider, With the need to use data in an ethical and transparent manner that makes citizens' trust at the top of the list. We will share a draft regarding that soon.

These are just a few examples of what the London Office of Technology and Innovation is working to help unlock the value of London's government data. It is worth noting, Achieving this is not easy or possible overnight, but, Achieving it right is certainly one of the most important things we can do together. - Eddie Copeland


This article was written by Eddie Copeland, manager The London Office of Technology and Innovation , an office of the London Councils, which represent London's 32 local administrative district councils, as well as Greater London. The original article was published on the Medium platform.

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