The RSS is urging the London mayor candidates to commit to a New York-style ‘Office of Data Analytics' which could utilise the large swathes of data available in order to provide better and more cost effective public services, therefore improving the lives of Londoners.
In letters sent to mayoral candidates Sadiq Khan, Zac Goldsmith, Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon, the RSS points to the 'huge opportunities to improve public services through expanding the use of technology and open data at local authority level’. A dedicated London Office of Data Analytics would be able to focus on opening up access to key data sets and establish a more joined-up and effective approach to using them.
So far, Zac Goldsmith is the only candidate to commit (in his business manifesto) to appointing a chief digital officer to head a Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics.
The RSS believes more data should be available to the public, saying: 'We believe citizens should have greater access to quality local data and the availability of crime data has shown there is a demand for it’.
In order to achieve this, the RSS says, a 'system of transparency' must be put in place, which is why the Society supports the recommendation in a Mayoral Tech Manifesto published by techUK, Tech London Advocates and Centre for London that the next London mayor should develop an Open Data Charter which outlines what data is being collected, how it’s being collected and for what purpose (see page 31 of the report, downloadable from the techUK website).
The RSS also urges the candidates to voluntarily sign up to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics to further boost public confidence that the statistics being produced by City Hall are 'trustworthy, high quality and of public value'.
These changes, the RSS says, would not require a radical overhaul of City Hall, nor be resource-heavy, but would make a big difference: 'If London is to become a truly smart city, bringing data to the forefront in crucial policy areas will be paramount to bring about a higher quality of life for Londoners.’
The RSS is attending a ‘Tech hustings’ panel discussion this afternoon at 3pm (GMT), where the London mayor candidates will respond to the recommendations made in the Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016. Follow the Twitter hashtag #DebateTech for updates on the discussion.