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Mayor points to London Datastore evolution

13/01/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has pointed to a future increase in the capabilities of the London Datastore.

Tower Bridge and City Hall

It follows the publication of a report by the Open Data Institute (ODI) that calls for a number of changes to improve the platform’s accessibility and increase its value to the city.

Khan indicated that there could be a shift towards sharing rather than opening up data to support its usage.

He commented: “London is considered one of the world’s leading smart cities because we have an enviable track record of using data to solve everyday problems faced by Londoners.

“By responsibly opening up a huge amount of data held by our public sector partners and working with London’s brilliant tech sector, we’re helping tackle some of the most urgent challenges facing our city as it grows.

“The next step is to create a shared approach for the city so we can all benefit from the innovation this will bring – while using the data we hold on Londoners’ behalf transparently, safely and securely.”

Heavy usage

The London Datastore was set up in 2010 to make data about the capital freely available. It currently has around 60,000 users each month and is home to more than 6,000 datasets – up from around 500 when it was launched and covering factors such as road congestion and air quality.

It has been used to create tools such as the London Rents Map, the Schools Atlas and the Cultural Infrastructure Map.

The ODI report says the platform has been a valuable resource but that the open data portal model has now shown its limits. It points to the increasing use of APIs, ‘knowledge graphs’, improved dataset search and streaming data, and says the ability to discover data from a wide range of sources is becoming more important.

It produces six recommendations for the future of the London Datastore: improve the findability of the data; increase the variety and volume that is available; showcase its reuse; document best practice; champion the development and adoption of standards; and encourage and facilitate collaboration.

“The open data portal model has also shown its limits,” the report says. “It is now well understood that data sits on a spectrum between closed and open, and that data stewards can unlock value by increasing access to data in ways that will maximise its value while minimising potential harmful impact.

“The London Datastore team has taken steps in this direction already by enabling secure sharing of data on the platform.”

Image by JRE313, CC BY 2.0

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