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Quick Start Guide to City Data

Quick Start Guide to City Data

The market for data-rich technologies and services to tackle urban challenges has been growing rapidly and is showing no sign of abating. Businesses and cities are waking up to the exciting possibilities offered by improving data analytics to inform and improve services. Future Cities Catapult's Quick Start Guide to City Data outlines some of the challenges and opportunities for innovation in this space as well as a framework for writing a City Data strategy.

There is a growing appreciation that the introduction of better analytical capability across cities and regions can help tackle urban challenges through the development and adoption of new data-rich technologies and services.

Various organisations have been reporting on this new phenomenon. Nesta published its Datavores of Local Government report and invested in piloting offices of Data Analytics in London and the North East. The LGA completed a body of work on the topic. Based on many conversations with public sector specialists and the findings from our own Innovate UK funded data science project called Tombolo (where we worked with councils and SMEs to bring new data products to market) Future Cities Catapult has developed a Quick Start Guide to City Data.

This Quick Start Guide draws on this range of resources to articulate what is possible in this area. It includes examples of challenges and opportunities for innovation in this space as well as a loose framework for writing a City Data strategy as part of a city or region’s wider data or digital strategy.

What is Future Cities Catapult doing to address City Data challenges?

Earlier this year our Tombolo project released two new pieces of software designed for data specialists and cities to combine, visualise and share datasets.

In March, we helped public sector organisations understand the possibilities through our City Data Hack 2018. Our series of State of City Data reports, which will begin to be published from the Autumn, will equip sector leads with more information on where the opportunities exist.

Versions of the Urban Data Explorer, which was developed and released in April 2018 in collaboration with small business Emu Analytics, have since been rolled out to public sector clients like LB of Barking and Dagenham.

In June, we launched #URBAIN, a new network designed to bring together those working toward bringing AI and Analytics to city services. Read more about the launch here.

In October, we’ll be investing in Data Science Fellowships. We’ll be piloting data science skills in councils and exploring how a local authority might support the generation of more demand for data science in their region.

In Autumn, we’ll be sharing the results of our exploration into toolkits for Data Sharing in cities and some recommendations for improving how data is shared within local government.


Jon Robertson is the delivery lead for Tombolo, organiser of City Data Hack, and author of Future Cities Catapult’s Quick Start Guide to City Data. Follow Jon on twitter here.

David Altabev is interim Data and Demonstrators Director at Future Cities Catapult. Follow David on twitter here.

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