Mike Flowers on why UK cities should harness their existing data

by Eddie Copeland

In June 2015, I published Big Data in the Big Apple, a report on how London could learn from New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA).

On 16 October 2015, MODA’s founding director, Mike Flowers, visited Policy Exchange to record an interview about his experiences of applying data analytics to urban environments.

Below is an extract of his response to my final question: “What advice would you give to UK cities seeking to take the first step to becoming smart?”, which I think summarises a key point that needs to be emphasised in discussions of smart cities.

Mike Flowers:

“I think they [UK cities] should look at what they’ve already got before they start picking up the phone and calling vendors.

Every locality generates data. It’s impossible at this point not to be generating data because you probably have a utility system that generates water, because you’ve got to bill them somehow.

You have an ambulance service.

You have a fire service.

You have a police service.

You have businesses that are licensed in your town.

You’ve got roads that people travel. etc. etc. etc.

You actually have in those a tremendous untapped resource that you can look to to solve the problems that you’re facing in terms of meeting your obligations to deliver those services.

So I’d tell cities the first step is to look inward.

The answers really are already there.

They just need to decide to take that first step.”

Mike Flowers 16 October 2015

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