[cross posted from the London DataStore blog]

There’s been a lot of discussion, on this blog and elsewhere, of what to actually do with city data once it’s out in the world. We think that, given the capital’s booming population and the consequent policy focus on addressing a wide range of infrastructure needs, one of the most important applications is using data (both open data, and the more private stuff) to gain insight into how the city is functioning right now, how this could potentially change based on a range of inputs, and to ultimately set out different scenarios for its future.

I’m very pleased to say that our company, Mastodon C, is going to be working with the GLA in 2015 and 2016 to try and do just this: to prototype a city data platform which will help the GLA’s modelling experts, data analysts, policy makers, and the public to integrate and make sense of different types of model and forecast, in order to explore scenarios for the future of London.

We plan to make use of the best of modern “big data” and web-based technologies, to make it easier for:

  • experts to ‘look into’ and adjust the equations, assumptions and connections of their models (without the need for programming skills), and take advantage of functions they don’t have at the moment, like version control and the capacity to scale to very big or complex datasets and simulations
  • policy makers to explore scenarios much more widely without the need to engage directly with the equations.
  • all of us to be able to see what’s being planned and what the thought process behind that is, through a graphical interface.

The platform will build on open source technology, will be open source itself, and will provide an open API interface to read data from and publish data to other systems.

This is all made possible by Innovate UK’s SBRI programme, which is funding the prototype development – which gives us a really unusual and exciting opportunity to tackle some really important problems using the latest technology.

We are, of course, very excited about this whole thing, and will be blogging regularly as things unfold – our first job being to spend some quality time with the GLA’s experts to understand what they really need from such a platform. Watch this space for more news!

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