London to build new citywide data hub

GLA is to redevelop Datastore platform to better enable data sharing and collation of information from new sources, such as APIs and IoT sensors

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The Greater London Authority is to redevelop its citywide data registry to improve sharing of information by public bodies support the collection of data from new sources such as connected infrastructure.

The project, due to get underway in earnest this summer, represents a major rebuild of the existing London Datastore – a platform launched in 2010 to provide open access data created and held by the GLA and other public-sector organisations throughout the capital.

According to a newly published procurement notice, the authority wishes to revamp the Datastore as it “is being used to meet user needs outside of its original scope [and] we are looking to redevelop the website enable us to better meet the needs of our users and iterate in future”.

“GLA is developing a cloud-based data platform to better support data sharing across London’s complex data environment,” the notice said. “In addition to an enhanced role as a central register of the city’s key data sets, it will deliver the core functionality on top of which multiple advanced services can be built by others.”

The updated platform should better allow the GLA and other public bodies to provide “data services as a means to address city challenges including improving air quality, reducing violence and protecting cultural assets”.

Given the sensitivity of some of the information involved, the new system should enable “private data sharing” by providing sophisticated mechanisms of user- and access-management that mean individual users and groups are afforded access only to appropriate data sets – or portions thereof.

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The Datastore will also need to ingest more and different types of information in the future, including from sensors and connected infrastructure, as well as APIs. 

The authority has already undertaken discovery-phase work – including both an initial “high-level” scoping exercise, followed by more detailed workshops and interviews.

The GLA indicated that this work has enabled the project team to establish “user personas, 91 user stories and seven user journeys”. Six core user groups for the platform have also been identified: consumers; decision makers; data sharers; analysts; and data curators; and data collectors.

The authority is seeking a supplier to support the project over the course of 18-to-24-month contract, worth about £500,000 and scheduled to begin in mid-June.

During the first 12 months, the objective will be to complete the development of a minimum viable product.

“This will deliver lots of functionality in a single release to allow users to switch over to the new platform from the current London DataStore – which is procured as SaaS (software-as-a-service) and will continue to run in parallel,” the contract notice said. “In addition to reproducing existing functionality, we will need to meet higher security standards, deliver larger data sets via API, develop the schema for richer metadata, allow more interactive content on data pages, and ensure searches look for results across page content, blogs, metadata and data.”

Once the MVP version is ready, subsequent phases of work “will look to take on more complex challenges, including single sign-on, supporting digital-first publication, and creating a configurable landing page for users, so that they can create a more customised experience”.

Bids for the project are open until midnight on 18 April, after up to five potential suppliers are expected to be evaluated.

The chosen provider will be expected to “fully integrate with [the GLA] team, share their knowledge and insight, work in an open and transparent way and demonstrate good agile product delivery practice”.

Work will take place both remotely and in an office location at the Southwark headquarters of the London Fire Brigade.


Sam Trendall

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