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The way forward: Addressing the needs of cities of the future

Data as infrastructure—closing remarks

By Prospect Team  

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Read more of Prospect’s “Data as infrastructure” report

It is now often acknowledged that development in the regions is key to driving forward the UK’s economic growth. Indeed, the rapid increase of people moving to live in cities, has only exacerbated the demand for new buildings, housing and transport infrastructure. As was noted throughout this report, despite its lack of visibility, data is the underlying foundation of our city infrastructure.

As the following take away points illustrate, improving access to data and addressing system fragmentation can enable smart city planning and therefore add value to infrastructure:

  • Creating and managing successful data-led city systems necessitates an understanding and review of community goals, business models, partnerships and structures of governance.
  • Data can be key to empowering people and local organisations to participate in the decision-making processes which impact city development.
  • While it is important to open access to data sources, we must also build the data infrastructure that will allow us to manage this information and develop the data literacy needed to understand it.
  • Devolution offers an unparalleled opportunity since data concerning local landscapes and city services is often compiled, owned and used by local and regional organisations.
  • Notably, data also has a role in empowering regions to reach their full economic potential. Indeed, data can be relied upon to identify local opportunities and facilitate the development of an environment where technologically innovative projects can succeed.
  • Concerns relating to data privacy and ownership need to be considered.
  • The absence of clear data standards can result in fragmented data sets and isolated data catalogues.

Lastly, since many local authorities are now in the process of developing and formalizing their own digital strategies, it is now of paramount importance that these conversations take place in order to formulate solutions that directly address regional realities.

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