Data Store enables apps for Londoners


The London Data Store, the public-access site for data held by the Greater London Authority (GLA), is paying back the GLA in many ways, according to the expert involved.

Emer Coleman, GLA's director of digital projects, told IT PRO at Cloud Expo in London the centre had enabled developers to make applications, specifically aimed at London users.

"Two apps that have been independently produced using the data we have made available spring to mind," she said. "One shows the most popular routes for bike rides and the other gives the time taken to complete journeys around London."

"We lack the ability to visualise data in this way, and it would cost the London tax-payer quite a lot if we had to do it ourselves, but it gives us valuable information for developing the service."

Coleman underlined the data was merely being offered back to the people who paid for its collection the London citizen.

"We have been surprised by the innovative apps that have been developed and this is just one way in which we are achieving our goal of encouraging new businesses to form that can capitalise on this information," she said.

Later, in her keynote address to the conference, Coleman said the days of secrecy were over and there may be occasions when the data is used for purposes that work against the GLA. However, she said this could be considered the price of freedom of information.

"When we made the SPAD (Signals Passed At Danger) information from London Underground available we were worried that an app may appear showing which lines could be considered the most dangerous," Coleman added.

"It may still happen but most people seem to be responsible and the apps have proved very popular."

Coleman said the next step is to try to gain access to real-time bus information. This service is outsourced and the data is held by the third party involved.

"This would complement our tube and train data to give London commuters a better way to plan their journeys while on the move especially if there is a road closure or adverse conditions causing delays," she concluded.