Our acclaimed data science partnership with universities

Mon, 16/03/2020

Westminster City Council's acclaimed data science partnership with top London universities is set to become a model across the wider public sector.

In 2018, Westminster City Council formed a data science partnership with UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) and King’s College London’s Centre for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) to test data-driven solutions to the city’s biggest challenges. The partnership deploys innovative tools to save money, generate new insights and improve service delivery for the Council and its residents.

CASA specialises in urban data analytics and the use of modelling, sensing, visualisation and computational methods to develop a science of cities, and CUSP is an urban scientific hub of diversity that pools traditional and non-traditional urban practitioner perspectives and ‘big data’ to improve citizens’ quality of living.

In just over 2 years, supportive and regular joint working has ensured the partnership’s productivity and success. CUSP and CASA academics have characterised their partnership with Westminster as one of their most active collaborations with local councils. Having been shortlisted for the Local Government Chronicle’s 2020 Future Places award and featured at conferences such as Digifest 2020 and Laria 2020, the partnership is poised to become a model to other public sector organisations. It demonstrates that true cooperation benefits everyone involved, including the public.

In November 2019, the Council also started working with UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Resources to develop a programme of work that researches energy use and sustainable food consumption and can build the evidence base used to reduce the council’s environmental footprint.

How has the partnership helped residents?

Under the partnership, the council has:

  • used demographic and leisure centre usage statistics to identify and engage least physically active residents to improve health outcomes
  • developed location allocation algorithm to strategically locate electric vehicle charging points to meet demand
  • created a smart-phone app for the council’s award-winning Soho Angels service to support vulnerable people out at night, preventing anti-social behaviour, 'accident and emergency' journeys and crime
  • the partnership has generated indispensable insights and invited new perspectives to shape evidence-based policymaking
  • identified distribution of unauthorised short-term lets to inform future work and lobbying efforts
Last updated: 16 March 2020