Data for the public good

By Miranda Sharp, Head of Smart Cities Practice at OS

We’re pleased to welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s report, Data for the public good.  As custodian of Britain’s geospatial database, containing over half a billion data points and updated up to 20,000 times a day, we recognise the challenges and opportunities of using information to make more of our infrastructure assets.

In our response to the original consultation, we called for a multi-party group to make infrastructure data accessible, using a framework of data standards for quality and interoperability. We’re pleased to be named in the report as part of the Task Group which will take forward this proposal. 

Geospatial data underpins the economies around the world in areas such as housing, natural capital, connected transportation and civic resilience, and this is recognised in the Government’s Industrial Strategy where it calls for greater use of data to boost productivity. Our R&D also leads us to believe that geospatial data will be a source of competitive advantage for the UK when using and adopting the technologies of the future, such as 5G, connected and autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.

We’re proud to be working with a diverse community at our Geovation Hub. Since opening its doors two years ago to some of the UK’s leading geospatial start-ups, the Hub has seen its ventures raise £11.3 million in investment, create 86 new jobs and gain a total market value of £16.3 million. This community is telling us that ensuring sustainable access to high quality, detailed and current data is a priority and is reliant on increased levels of collaboration underpinned by standards.

The concept of the national Digital Twin, where multiple data sources are combined to allow the management of inter-related systems, such as road, rail and water networks, is something that we have been working on with the Digital Built Britain (DBB) Programme, CityVerve, the ITRC and Iceberg collaborators and with the National University in Singapore. We believe it’s a real opportunity to deliver world-class infrastructure and associated productivity gains for the UK.

For over 200 hundred years, OS has created a consistent representation of the whole of Great Britain and now devolutionary and demographic changes require us to take a new approach in city regions. As part of CityVerve, our DCMS-sponsored collaboration with Cisco and 27 others in Manchester, we have created a map of unparalleled level of detail which enables a system-of-systems management approach for all sorts of data, and enabling the development of:

  • Next-generation building management systems, providing real-time compliance information and early warnings, improving the wellbeing of occupants and reducing intrusive inspection costs.
  • Cycle data from IoT bike lights that provide near real-time journey tracking, helping to gauge performance of cycling infrastructure as well as road conditions and popular route choices.
  • Smart inhalers, for those at risk or suffering with COPD, helping them to manage their condition and helping to ensure vulnerable people get the right care.

As Jennifer Schooling said at the launch event for the NIC report, for its potential value to be realised data needs to be “curated, trusted, valued and shared”.  With the advent of the Geospatial Commission and our continued collaborations with CDBB, NIC and many others, we’re excited about the opportunities for the digital twin of GB to develop at pace in 2018.

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