Strand Aldwych is a new destination for London, developed through an extensive co-design process led by Westminster City Council and over 70 stakeholders. The scheme aims to bring the inside out – celebrating the wealth of cultural and educational offer in the area, whilst providing a new green oasis in central London for people to come together. The Strand-Aldwych Data Springboard is a collaboration between researchers at King's Informatics and Westminster City Council, the local authority responsible for the Strand-Aldwych redevelopment.
The concept of the Springboard emerged from the Smart Working Group, which explores the use of data to improve the newly created pedestrian zone at Strand, and how sharing of open, big and local data can encourage and promote cohesion and improve engagement with residents, workers and visitors. As part of the working group, we want to innovate with data during and beyond the redevelopment.
Data sharing means allowing third parties specifically permissioned access to datasets to generate value. It allows organisations to innovate with and generate value from data resources that would otherwise not be accessible. For Strand-Aldwych, it means enabling the community of policy makers, students and researchers, businesses and cultural institutions to exchange data between themselves, for the benefit of the whole community.
Building on interdisciplinary research in data science, open innovation, and AI, in projects such as Data Stories, MediaFutures, and EUHubs4Data, we design participatory data stewardship and governance formats facilitating bottom-up engagement with data and data-driven decision making. For the Data Springboard, we work with both public and private stakeholders of the redevelopment. We started with a series of workshops in 2022, in which we discussed the key design questions such as how everyone could benefit from the Springboard, what challenges it should focus on, how it should approach questions of data ethics, and what legal and community frameworks we would need to put into place to ensure everybody benefits.
"This area of work is a key council priority for the local authority which aligns with short and long-term ambitions of the transformation scheme and is foundational to our wider management model which involves various stakeholders and communities in the area." - Kirsten Zeller, Westminster City Council
The results of our stakeholders workshops are promising. Stakeholders identified key challenges the Data Springboard could address, including increased efficiencies, supporting local businesses and governance, making data interoperable, and establishing accessible feedback routes. Participants identified a series of relevant datasets, including traffic flows and footfall data, weather and pollen forecasts, and accessibility. Ethical challenges were seen primarily in ensuring that the Springboard has core values embedded in its framework, including a duty of care for those who might be affected by the data, and especially does not put vulnerable groups at risk.
Stakeholders were also especially keen to not only build a data sharing platform, but a whole community, which could not only share data, but also insights generated through it. Thanks to this demand, and the hyperlocal context for the data and insight that should be shared, there are no templates we can build on to establish this community and platform - so we have to build our own!
Our goal is to create a pilot for the Data Springboard in 2023, which can deliver innovative solutions with local data that benefit those who are part of or affected by this data, while also educating all the stakeholders about the benefits of data sharing. If you would like to participate, get in touch!
Professor of Computer Science