The London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) has launched a report and interactive dashboard mapping the digital technologies, contracts and skills in the majority of the city’s boroughs.
Named City Tools: London, it has been developed with consulting service Bloomberg Associates and is aimed at helping councils find new opportunities to collaborate and reshape the technology market.
The dashboard includes a procurement analysis with details of frontline and corporate systems, manufacturers and unique suppliers. It has been designed to help users see which boroughs are using a particular system, all the systems in use by a specific borough and in which service areas, and to see opportunities for collaboration and shared procurement.
It covers 20 of the 32 boroughs and the Greater London Authority. A LOTI spokesperson said that all were invited to share their data via a survey and it was pleased with the number that responded, but it recognised that some may not have had the time and resources to respond, and that others may prefer to see value City Tools can provide before wanting to get fully involved.
"We're committed to getting all boroughs who want to take part involved," the spokesperson said. "Part of our work over the next few months will be showing how the data can help boroughs make more informed procurement decisions.
"We're also exploring how we can automate the data collection so that there's less of a burden on boroughs - that might help encourage more to join the initiative."
Findings and trends
The report outlines key findings and trends with details of 809 IT systems and their respective contracts, indicating when they are due to expire. Along with this is identifies skill levels in the boroughs to show where their could be opportunities for peer-to-peer training.
LOTI said it provides a starting point for possible collaborations between local authorities, including the coordination of contracts to give the boroughs more bargaining power.
It also provides recommendations for government. These include that the boroughs should use the dashboard to identify opportunities and be ready to help others in upgrading their skills.
It suggests that LOTI should create an online service from the dashboard, with an API to support interoperability, and that technology suppliers should become responsible for updating the data. Also, it urges the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and boroughs to scale up the project towards a national level.
Eddie Copeland, director of LOTI, said: “Thanks to City Tools: London, boroughs will now have much richer information about how their technology compares to their peers’, making it easier to share their knowledge and expertise with each other, and look for areas where they can work together.”
Sources of support
The Greater London Authority’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell commented: “The launch of City Tools: London is an important step in our work to help the capital’s councils work together more effectively. This new resource will play an important role working at a new scale to design common services which best meet the needs of Londoners of all backgrounds.”
Blackwell also posted a series of tweets saying there has been an “information imbalance between suppliers and buyers, and that authorities are often hampered by legacy technology, which makes it harder to access data.
He said that City Tools “will play an important role working at a new scale to design common services”.
The project has picked up support from IT industry association techUK. Its head of local public services Georgina Maratheftis commented: “With the right data, the dashboard will not only be of value to the boroughs, but also to new entrants and suppliers to better understand well in advance the potential opportunities.
“Often the difficulty for suppliers in this market is the lack of pipeline visibility. The dashboard will go some way to addressing this challenge, but must be supported by early market engagement, allowing London Boroughs to access and understand the innovations and technologies that exist to help solve some of the most pressing challenges the city faces.”
Image by Mai-Linh Doan, CC BY-SA 3.0
Extra details on number of boroughs involved added on receiving information from LOTI on 14/11