Mayor of London Boris Johnson opens London Datastore 2 for developers

The Mayor of London opens the sequel to City Hall’s London Datastore, which includes over 500 new datasets to spark developer innovation

London mayor Boris Johnson has unveiled the London Datastore 2, the second iteration of City Hall’s popular London Datastore project, launched in 2010.

The upgraded data-sharing portal will make 580 new datasets available for businesses, professional organisations, academics, local authorities, developers and the general public to download and use as they see fit.

The original London Datastore – which opened up previously unavailable data on aspects of London life, such as health, crime, employment statistics and carbon emissions – has led to the creation of over 200 apps, including map service Citymapper; and the Bike Share Map, which shows users where to find "Boris bikes" available for hire.

Datastore 2 will include such information as broadband connectivity and planning permission requests. Users can request new data releases and suggest analyses projects.

Big data opportunity

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise, said there was a chance to exploit the capacity of big data to deliver widespread changes in how London works.

“As with the city itself, the London data ecosystem bristles with energy and we look forward to expanding Datastore 2 over time, so decisions about the future of the city are informed with the very latest data,” said Malthouse.

The aim of the project is to improve city services and Londoners' quality of life, said Johnson.

“The superb and much improved Datastore 2 aims to make the best use possible of an encyclopaedic amount of information about our great city. I am sure it will provide a wealth of material the world's brightest minds will be able to use, to develop insight and apps that can be used to solve the big city problems we face on a daily basis,” he said.

City Hall has also launched a series of City Data Challenges, using data analytics to solve challenges to city services. City Hall said the first challenge revolved around pressures created by Generation Y.

Data experts get behind Datastore 2

Not-for-profit organisation the Open Data Institute (ODI) and quango Future Cities Catapult will play a role in the Datastore scheme.

City Hall had already committed to publishing all the information it owns, under the ODI’s open data certification scheme, to give developers confidence in the provenance of the data available. City Hall is soon to produce an Open Data Charter, setting out best practice around city data use.

The Future Cities Catapult is conducting an experiment called Whereabouts London, which will blend 235 datasets to help users consider the built environment in new ways.

Future Cities Catapult chief executive and Smart London board member Peter Madden commented: “Data will increasingly drive how we run our cities and our businesses. London is a melting pot for urban innovation and the Greater London Assembly is right to emphasise the importance of data and the role government can play in harnessing innovation.”

Partnerships beyond London

A number of academic bodies have staked out their involvement, notably New York University’s Centre for Urban Science and Progress, which is expanding across the Atlantic through a partnership with Kings College London and the University of Warwick.

The city government of Chicago has also become involved in a more collaborative role. Chicago commissioner and CIO Brenna Berman said both cities had much to learn from each other.

“We both have a desire to ensure data is used to improve decision-making, so government is truly optimising the opportunities it has to improve residents’ lives,” she said. “Partnerships are a vital piece of the jigsaw, so it is interesting to see what London is doing in stimulating data-led innovation.”

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