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MHCLG plans data observatory for Oxford-Cambridge Arc


Mark Say Managing Editor

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is aiming to create a data observatory to support development in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

Binary code over laptops

It is laying plans for a joint digital evidence base for the region with a call for support in a discovery project to begin by late September.

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc covers a swathe of the northern Home Counties that has been identified as an area for strategic investments to support economic development.

MHCLG has indicated that the observatory would provide a hub for key documents that would be standardised and prioritised, in contrast to the existing collection of documents from local planning authorities that are difficult to find and share, and often not in machine readable formats.

The market notice says the discovery will explore best practice and existing tools and standards to see whether any could be scaled up or a new approach is needed. This will contribute to ensuring the digital evidence base can support the spatial framework and that any new evidence will conform to a set of common data standards.

Aim for interoperability

“Through establishing standardised digital formats, the information will move from documents to data, and will become interoperable,” it says. “This will enable us to have a strategic overview across the Arc and for greater collaboration between local planning authorities.”

Among the priorities is to identify the key datasets, potential users and whether there are standard outputs in existing documents. There is also a need to prioritise datasets based on user needs.

Expected users include local planning officers, infrastructure providers, housing developers, local politicians, government planning officers and residents of the region.

Image from iStock, loops7

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