When you think of the center of the universe for technology, you probably think of Silicon Valley. But where is the same headquarters for the data? The answer is that there isn’t one, yet. But London is rising to the challenge with the ambitious goal of becoming the heart of the world’s burgeoning data economy.
The good news for London is that it is still early days for the data; The full economic potential of the data economy has yet to be realized. But that potential is huge.
The London Borough of Newham recently published a report with the Global Prosperity Institute at University College London (UCL). His conservative forecast is that the UK open data market will be worth £42bn in 2025, £46bn in 2030 and £5bn in 2035.
In the UK, there is the potential for around 3.2 million data-related jobs by the end of the decade. This would be worth around £28bn to the UK economy by 2030, of which London’s share is around £5.5bn. In London alone, around 140,000 open data jobs will be needed in the next 10 years. As such, several local districts are spearheading efforts to make the capital the “center of the data universe.”
In London, Newham is leading this charge. Newham Sparks is an initiative that positions the county as a hub in terms of data jobs, skills, business, education, and the application of data to solve problems. It is an ambitious plan to accelerate the growth of the data economy in Newham and London in general.
Omid Shiraji is a CIO consultant working for various authorities, including Newham, and a member of the Mayor of London’s Smart London Board, which helps shape the capital’s smart cities agenda and investment in digital infrastructure in the city. capital. He says there is “an incredible opportunity for London to be the center of the universe when it comes to data as a sector. And Newham has seen it and grabbed it.”
Although comparisons to Silicon Valley may not be immediately obvious, there are several reasons Newham is well placed as a location for data expansion and startups, he explains.
“Newham has Royal Docks as a business area, and the borough offers business fees and other incentives that make it a great place for businesses to locate.”
Shiraji also points out that it was its proximity to internationally renowned academic institutions that helped establish Silicon Valley as a technology hub. Newham, he says, has UCL East and the University of East London (UEL) in the district. Another positive for Newham is that it has the youngest and most diverse population in London. “That’s powerful on so many levels,” he says. “Early adopters, moldable profiles of people, in addition to that diversity of thought, culture and background.”
It’s also critical that Newham council leaders be a driving force behind the plans, along with large companies like Microsoft and Amazon, and smaller organizations and local educators who support the launch of Newham Sparks.
“Primary schools, higher and higher education providers are responding to this agenda. The companies have contacted the mayor to tell him: ‘I work on data. How can we get involved?’ You have great responses to calls to action. There is a melting pot of people coming together to take advantage of this agenda,” he says.
What can other local authorities, in London and beyond, learn from Newham’s example and apply it themselves?
The most successful authorities are the ones that care most about linking digital and data to the citizen, and not just generating data for the sake of it, says Jason Foster, CEO of Cynozure, a London-based data and analytics strategy consultancy. . which has several local government clients.
“The superpower of local authorities is that they do care about the final product, which is the service and the citizen who receives that service. Connecting those dots between the services they offer like advice and how data can play a role in finding out where their problems are and solving them in an interdepartmental way is where they win.”
Newham and UCL make several recommendations to create a roadmap for a data society. At the heart of the strategy is data citizenship. This means equipping residents with the tools and skills they need to understand the value of data for the public good; the skills to read and analyze data in your daily life; and the confidence to share your data.
While Newham is leading the pack in its efforts to unlock the value of the data economy, other counties are looking to follow suit.
“If I look west at Westminster, it wants to be recognized as the world’s smart city. If you look at South West London, there’s a partnership between three or four boroughs where they want to push the IoT agenda, in areas like social care. And if you look at Camden up and down Newham, there’s a mix of private equity, venture capital, and angel investment in start-ups and data expansions. So you can see that these data economy nodes are popping up.
“When I put my London hat on, connecting those parts is really exciting,” he says.