London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, led an insightful discussion on how the capital is embracing smart tech and data transformation, at a London First reception hosted by Airbnb.
The context was clear– London already has much to celebrate.
In 2014, the capital innovated with contactless payments on the transport system – now copied across the world – and the Mayor’s recent implementation of the Ultra Low Emission Zone has been aided by smart technology connecting data sets across several public bodies. Moreover, London’s datastore already has 800 datasets, which are being used to solve some of the capital’s most complex challenges such as poor air quality, housing and inequality.
Despite this success, Theo highlighted key barriers preventing London from fully benefiting from digital and data:
More digital champions are needed: while many London Boroughs are progressing well, some Councils do not view digital and data issues as a priority
A new approach to data sharing: there will never be a single warehouse for data, so work is needed on connecting data sets from different agencies and the private sector
Making the roll-out of digital infrastructure easier: providing the environment to promote full-fibre infrastructure as a means of future-proofing London’s digital and data needs will be essential.
One way Theo is tackling these challenges is with the upcoming launch of a new London Office of Technology (LOTI). The aim of LOTI is to support the boroughs to innovate, build common capability and to scale digital innovation across London’s public services. A significant cohort of boroughs and representative body London Councils have already committed to LOTI. This programme will help to build future digital leadership skills and share best practice across the Capital.
2019 will see Theo and his team focus on a number of initiatives including how data can improve planning, and a technology map of London to help facilitate better use of digital and data.
London First will continue to play its part in helping to make our capital “smarter” through improved digital and data capabilities. This year, for example, we will be working alongside Theo and the GLA to create a shared vision for businesses and local authorities on the opportunities from world-class digital infrastructure.
The London Infrastructure Summit on 12 September 2019 provides an opportunity to delve further into these issues as part of a wide-reaching programme on the future of London’s infrastructure priorities.
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