ADD2162 Sharing Cities: Horizon 2020 programme – hosting costs

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
31 October 2017
Decision by: 
Andrew Collinge, Assistant Director of Intelligence

Executive summary

MD1574 approved the GLA’s acceptance of a grant award of €24,988,759 from the European Commission and expenditure of the same, over for the period January 2016 to January 2020, for the coordination and delivery of the ‘Sharing Cities’ programme. €2.4m of funding was awarded for specific GLA activities, including €70k for hosting of the ‘Urban Sharing’ Data Platform in London.

This ADD specifically addresses this €70k for hosting and seeks an exemption from the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code so as to appoint MastodonC without a competitive procurement exercise.


That the Assistant Director of Intelligence approves:
1.    expenditure of up to £42,000 on the Urban Sharing Platform in London (known as City DataStore); and
2.    a related exemption from the requirement under the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code so as to appoint MastodonC as the technical partner in London for the programme.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    In September 2015 the European Commission (EC) awarded the GLA and a consortium of 34 European partners a grant award to deliver the Horizon 2020 (H2020) Smart Cities and Communities ”Lighthouse Project” programme. This five-year programme supports the implementation and integration of near-to-market smart city technologies and systems, to maximise their benefit in demonstrator areas and prove their replicability across wider city environments. 

1.2    The project aims to develop, deploy and integrate replicable solutions in the energy, transport, data and ICT sectors in each of the three lead cities of London, Milan, and Lisbon. A further three ‘follower’ cities - Burgas, Bordeaux and Warsaw are actively involved with the three lead cities to validate city service designs and implement a number of specific solutions

1.3    A total of €24,988,759 has been awarded by the European Commission to the consortium with €2.4m of funding awarded for specific GLA activities, €2.7m to the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) and €1.3 to other London partners.

1.4    The GLA role in Work Package 4 of Sharing Cities is concerned with the development of an ‘Urban Sharing Platform’ (USP) in each of the lead cities (Milan, Lisbon and Greenwich). These will allow the sharing of data across different systems and between different organisations. Crucially, these platforms will be able access data from the emerging networks of sensors (Internet of Things) and also support data marketplaces through APIs. 

1.5    In London, where public services are delivered by a wide range of organisations, much of the challenge is to connect securely between different public-sector systems and the GLA is leading on the development of an Urban Sharing Platform (City DataStore). The City DataStore is a cloud based system to store data (and information about it), allow data owners to share specific datasets with chosen individuals (or groups) and allow secure connections with other data stores (through APIs). This builds on our previous experience of sharing open data through the London DataStore. We are working with Greenwich as a pilot, but are also working with other public organisations across London, including LLDC, LFB and TfL – and other Boroughs through the Borough Data Partnership.

Exemption from the Contracts and Funding Code

1.6    The GLA Contracts and Funding Code allows for a supplier to be selected without competition, if the supplier has previous involvement in a specific current project or continuation of existing work, which cannot be separated from the new work. To this end, Mastodon C is the named London technology partner for the Sharing Cities programme in the Sharing Cities Consortium Agreement and has been carrying out development work since the start of the project in August 2016. Consideration was given to conducting an open tender, however, a prospective supplier would have to create new infrastructure from scratch. This would cause considerable delay and additional cost as well as the technical considerations (see point 1.9 below). 

1.7    The funding in WP4 has been allocated to the GLA to:
•    Develop the specification for a pan-London USP 
•    Oversee the work of the technical partner, MastodonC, including testing
•    Promote the City DataStore across the scale-up cities
•    Develop use cases for the City DataStore and to use it on a number of practical projects
•    Fund initial hosting costs (servers and data storage)

1.8    Value for money has been obtained by working with the Sharing Cities partner MastodonC who obtain substantial savings over the baseline cost of Amazon Web Services through the ‘pre-purchasing’ of database and server capacity.

1.9    The City DataStore will be made available as an open source piece of software and so can be run by the GLA (or others) on any infrastructure in the future. However, during this intensive development phase, there are technical reasons for the developer hosting and developing on their own infrastructure. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The objectives and expected outcomes are set out in more detail in the subscription agreement between MastodonC and the MastodonC terms and conditions covering security and encryption arrangements. In broad terms, they are:
•    The GLA has access to the Witan platform to securely share data with partner organisations
•    The GLA will have access to current user features and new features as developed over the coming 12 months
•    A GLA branded log in area has been created for organisations that the GLA is sharing data with

This is an online system and access will be available immediately on supply of a Purchase Order.


Equality comments

3.1    The public-sector equality duty requires the identification and evaluation of the likely potential impacts, both Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (the “Equality Act”) as public authorities, the Mayor and the GLA must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics under the Equality Act comprise age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage or civil partnership status. No particular effects of this proposed decision, positive or negative, are foreseen on persons with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.


Other considerations

4.1    Key Risks:
•    Compatibility with other data stores – The City DataStore has been designed with open APIs itself and will be able to share with other data stores that use one of the established web standards
•    London development times, stability of the platform, ongoing support – The City DataStore is being developed with the agile methodology to ensure that the most important functions are delivered first, the platform will be hosted on AWS cloud servers which have extremely high ‘up times’, the platform can be transferred to other hosting arrangements to ensure its ongoing availability 

4.2    The secure transfer of data underpins a number of important GLA projects including:
•    London Office of Technology and Innovation 
•    London Office for Data Analytics (exchange of data with Boroughs and GLA family)
•    Safestats (transfer of anonymised data from A&E depts. and Metropolitan Police)
•    Exchange of opinion research data with partners

4.3    The lack of a private twin to the open data store has affected the operation of a number of projects and not completing this procurement will have a significant impact on the Intelligence Unit’s capacity to work in partnership with other London public organisations.

4.4    Consultation on functional requirements has taken place across the Intelligence Unit and more widely across the GLA using structured workshops with key users.

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure up to £42,000 for the Urban Sharing Platform in London. 

5.2    This expenditure will be funded from the 2017/18 H2020 programme budget within the Intelligence Unit, where a full reimbursement of costs will be submitted and reclaimed from the European Commission (EC). 

Planned delivery approach and next steps



Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

13th October 2017

Announcement [if applicable]


Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

16th October 2017

Main milestones – delivery of user management, search and CKAN harvesting

30 Jan 2018

Main milestones – delivery of schema testing

30 March 2018

Final evaluation start and finish (self/external) [delete as applicable]:


Delivery End Date [for project proposals]

12th October 2018

Project Closure: [for project proposals]



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