NYC-style 'data tsar' would benefit London, says report

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London should establish its own office of data analytics to help share the capital's data more effectively, and help with a range of social issues such as identifying illegal/dangerous dwellings and tax/benefit fraud as well as providing useful information to businesses, according to a new report published by Capital City Foundation.

In the report 'Big Data in the Big Apple: the lessons London can learn from New York’s data-driven approach to smart cities', the newly established, London-focused arm of think tank Policy Exchange examines the model that has been established by Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, and explores how this might be applied to London.

The report proposes that a London Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) be housed in City Hall and consist of a team of data analysts led by a chief analytics officer (or 'data tsar') reporting directly to the London mayor, utilising and combining datasets from London's 32 boroughs and public sector organisations to gain insights.

It also argues that issues such as illegal housing could be tackled by joining up data from different sources. By overlaying data such as waste output, fly tipping, energy consumption, councils would be better able to identify houses with more people than officially registered. Similarly, by combining Companies House business closure statistics with Transport for London data on Oystercard usage could give business startups vital information what kinds of businesses have failed in a given area and where the biggest flows of people are.

Hetan Shah, executive director of the RSS said: 'This report provides an excellent insight into how the city of New York has used data and statistics creatively to solve problems. There is a lot here to inspire other cities and local governments.'

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