Osborne Announces ‘Smart Cities’ Analytics Centre

The government is to back a new East London centre aimed at putting the UK at the forefront of data analytics

The government is backing a new research centre in Shoreditch, East London, that will focus on commercialising public information, Chancellor George Osborne revealed at the Google Zeitgeist conference.

The “smart cities” centre will be set up this year by teams from Imperial College London and University College London working with unnamed commercial partners, with the aim of putting the UK at the cutting edge of the emerging market for data analytics.

Harnessing data sets

The research centre will focus on data around energy usage, transport and social metrics, according to Osborne.

“This ‘smart cities’ research centre will develop new technologies, in partnership with leading companies, to harness and exploit these huge new data sets, and support the businesses and technologies of the future,” Osborne said.

Funding will be provided by the Technology Strategy Board, along with the two universities and corporate investors.

Public information released

Osborne said the government will be releasing more public information in the coming months that can be used in consumer websites.

“Over the next 12 months, we’re going to unlock some of the most valuable datasets still locked away in government servers,” the Chancellor said. “This is the raw data that will enable you, for the first time, to analyse the performance of public services, and of competing providers within those public services.”

He said more than 6,000 government data sets are currently available to developers.

Osborne also disclosed that Treasury systems are coming under online attack by organised invaders at a rate of more than one attempt per day.

“During 2010, hostile intelligence agencies made hundreds of serious and pre-planned attempts to break into the Treasury’s computer system,” Osborne said. “In fact, it averaged out as more than one attempt per day. This makes the Treasury one of the most targeted departments across Whitehall.”