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GLA sizes up London Office of Technology and Innovation

05/05/17

Capital’s assembly puts out feelers for scoping project aimed to promote development of technologies with strong societal value

The Greater London Assembly (GLA) has kicked off a project to set up a London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) with the aim of promoting “technology preparedness” and co-ordinating a stream of initiatives in the field.

Aerial view of London over River ThamesIt is commissioning a scoping study to test a number of propositions, define a programme of work and develop operating and governance models for the body.

Andrew Collinge, assistant director at the GLA, has outlined the plans in a London Datastore blog, saying the authority is now open to pitches from organisations that could run the scoping project.

He says that LOTI will not be a physical space, given that London already has plenty of accelerators and innovation centres, but that it will be focused on ensuring that work on technology responds to problems, instead of going in search of them. It should also add new value – societal, economic and environmental – to a critical mass of public bodies.

Other priorities will be the promotion of open standards, fostering a culture of open innovation and co-production with the technology sector, and cementing London’s post-Brexit role in a “city to city” market in smart technologies.

Strengthen collaboration

“It feels that there is more potential to be unlocked, if we can strengthen collaboration in a way that recognises the potential of technology to deliver at scale and across boundaries,” Collinge says. 

“Technology (think cloud) pays no attention to them; nor, given half a chance, does data.  Further, the communities we serve roam freely across them, so why should we in the public services not attempt to work across them to meet common challenges, share opportunities and ultimately deliver collective, significant efficiencies?”

He also cites a Policy Exchange Report from 2015, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, that said too many digital government initiatives have been focused on immediate needs without looking at what could happen in the near future, and that this undermines the drive to develop smart places.

Areas in which LOTI could have an effect are in developing the role of blockchain technology for delivering services, and in considering the deployment of robot vehicles on the streets.

Collinge adds that a pilot project for the creation of a London Office of Data Analytics, run by innovation charity Nesta and ASI Data Science, is soon to produce an evaluation report.

Picture by Mai-Linh Doan, CC Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 France through Wikimedia

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