Mission 2: Strike a New Deal for City Data

How we treat data is an infrastructure issue for the city, as important as our road, railway and energy networks. We need to develop better policies and build these into public procurement and the design of new services. This is also important for our city’s growth. The data sector is estimated to create around £322bn of economic value to the UK by 2020. London already has a world-class ecosystem in research, skills and businesses. We want to continue to foster the conditions for this sector to grow and benefit all Londoners.

The next stage is to work in collaboration with partners to build this into a city-wide approach.

To enable this next stage, the Mayor will:

  • launch the London Office for Data Analytics (LODA) and programme to increase data-sharing and collaboration for the benefit of Londoners
  • develop a city-wide cyber security strategy to coordinate responses to cyber-threats to businesses, public services and citizens
  • strengthen data rights and accountability to build trust in how public data is used
  • support an open ecosystem to increase transparency and innovation

Launch the London Office for Data Analytics and programme

The Mayor will establish a London Office for Data Analytics programme to introduce new data-sharing arrangements at City Hall and across public services. It will invite partnerships with the public and tech sector for new City Data Sprints to develop use cases. To aid standard identification, we will define lists of critical enabling data of the names and footprints of London’s buildings, objects like lampposts and spaces like parks. We will make this data - whether it is held by the public, private or third sectors - as open as possible to save time and confusion agreeing the names and locations of buildings and places. We will continue technical development of borough data officers through a ‘City Data Academy’ run by the GLA.

The first step in our ‘New Deal’ will be to address data-sharing and capabilities in the city. The smart city of the future involves real-time metrics, data analytics and services focused on the needs of the citizen. The new London Office of Data Analytics (LODA) will be a hub developing and supporting data collaborations between public services in London. It will develop, commission and implement projects that address public services and urban challenges which are best tackled together. Developed following a pilot with Nesta and several London boroughs in 2016-17, LODA has now secured £365,000 of investment from City Hall, the London Fire Brigade, the Centre for Urban Science and Progress London, and Sharing Cities, our Horizon 2020 EU-funded project.


man at computer

LODA will operate across councils, the NHS and other public services. It will build on existing partnerships with universities and the tech sector, such as London Ventures and the London Counter-Fraud Hub. Its partnership with the Alan Turing Institute will help us better understand air pollution in the capital by collating existing and new data sources and enhancing how they are analysed, using a technique called machine learning. This will complement the existing modelling already undertaken in London, which adopts a bottom-up approach (in the case of the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory) and relies on more traditional data sources. LODA’s initiatives will add to the existing ecosystem of ways for London’s boroughs and public services to innovate in data sharing and standards.

Develop a city-wide cyber security strategy

Cyber-security strategy - Together with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the London Resilience Group, the Mayor will develop a new cyber security strategy to coordinate innovation and resilience across London’s business community and public services in order to better protect our citizens.

The more widespread use of networked devices, such as sensors, and the move to the cloud represents a fundamental change in infrastructure, meaning the city and its public services need to be more responsive and collaborative in order to counter new cyber-threats. To take advantage of London’s strengths as a cyber security tech sector, the Mayor is committed to developing a new approach for the city.

MOPAC has invested £300,000 in 2017 in the London Digital Security Centre. This is a joint venture between the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police, to help provide advice and protection against cyber-crime to small and medium sized enterprises in London. Local councils and other public bodies are supported by the Information Security for London network, set up in 2003 and funded by London Councils.

The next step will be to support collaboration across London’s public services, working with London Councils and the London Health and Care Strategic Partnership Board. The world-first £13.5million London Cyber Innovation Centre, located at Plexal in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, received part of its funding from DCMS in April 2018. It will help secure the UK’s position as a global leader in the growing cyber security sector. The centre will offer a tailored programme of support to at least 72 companies over three years.

Strengthen data rights, accountability and trust

Digital understanding - The Mayor will work with civil society, boroughs, government and other organisations to advance the public understanding of civic benefit of data.

Data ethics - The Smart London Board will work with the new UK Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and will appoint a new member with specific responsibility for data and privacy.  

Algorithmic transparency - The Smart London Board will discuss the development of a code of standards on algorithmic decision-making.

Data trusts - The Smart London Board will study how the Mayor can set a challenge for piloting a data trust for AI.

Citizens need to trust how digital services are designed and how they operate. With new GDPR data laws, data holders must protect ‘privacy by design’, giving individuals new rights to give them greater control over their personal data, such as the right to request data is deleted and for inaccurate data to be rectified. In practice, any Londoner whose data has been shared must be able to know the legitimate reasons why and the benefits to them as individuals, their communities and their city.

During the Listening Tour we suggested that some citizens are more open to making ‘worthy trade-offs’ - in other words to share their data if it benefits themselves and others in society. Looking to the future, as a leader in the civic application of data science and the development of AI, we will need to develop clear guidelines on the ethics of data use, the appropriate use of sensors in public spaces, how to address the bias in algorithms and transparency.

New mechanisms for earning the trust of citizens in how data is exchanged should be considered. The UK Industrial Strategy proposes the design of ‘data trusts’ to help the sharing of data between organisations holding data and organisations looking to use data to develop AI. The government will soon consult with industry to ensure data exchange is secure and benefits public services. LODA will operate across councils, the NHS and other public services.

park data

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has co-created a data platform with the city of Berlin to exchange data ethically on energy from buildings

Support an open ecosystem

Publish an open data charter - The Mayor will work with stakeholders across London’s public sector to agree a set of standards and principles to be adopted for open data and publish these under a new open data charter for London.

Open Government partnership - The Mayor will apply to the 2019 Open Government Partnership Local programme and join the Community of Practice on Transparency and Local Open Government as a founding member when it launches in 2018.

The Mayor is committed to opening up the capital’s data to help drive better decision-making throughout London. For this we need to support our work with an ecosystem that works more effectively with the open data and government transparency community. The current open data landscape in London is complicated by multiple public bodies publishing their data across different websites. This means there is little consistency in their approach. The GLA is keen to engage with partners and stakeholders across London to enable the further release and usability of open data.

All of London’s councils have a transparency section on their website where they publish their local government transparency code data. However, only seven have a fully-featured open data portal (a platform that includes metadata, a search feature as well as the ability to download data) with each differing significantly in their structure and content.