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Sadiq Khan launches Smart London plan



Programme focuses on five ‘missions’ and takes in more than 20 initiatives

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched the city’s Smart London plan, with more than 20 initiatives aimed at developing a smart infrastructure and boosting the local digital economy.

A major element of the programme will involve matching tech start-ups with larger companies and public bodies to deal with some of the capital’s major problems, including inequality, climate change and London’s ageing population.

The plans have been summed up in a document named Smarter London Together, described as a “flexible digital masterplan for the city”, and are focused on five “missions”: design, data sharing, connectivity, skills and collaboration.

The first places an emphasis on user designed services, with common standards and the development of new approaches to digital include. It will also involve a Civic Innovation Challenge to encourage innovation from the tech sector and work on new civic platforms to engage the public better.

A new deal for city data takes in the launch of the London Office of Data Analytics’ programme to increase data sharing between the boroughs, along with a city-wide cyber security strategy and a strengthening of data rights and accountability to build public trust.

5G and planning powers

Work on connectivity and smarter streets will be coordinated through a Connected London programme and projects to explore the potential of 5G networks, accompanied by the use of planning powers in support of the cause. This could include requiring building developers to include full fibre connections in all new homes.

It will also involve support for a new generation of smart infrastructure through major procurements – Khan’s office emphasised the potential to place air quality sensors on lampposts, public Wi-Fi and electric vehicle charging points – using public building to support the provision of 4G and the promotion of common standards for smart tech.

Skills development will include developing a digital workforce capability through the mayor’s Skills for Londoners Strategy, and supporting computing skills from early years schooling.

Efforts to improve city-wide collaboration will include using the London Office of Technology and Innovation to support common capabilities and standards, promoting innovation in medical technology through the local NHS and social care sector, exploring new partnerships with the tech sector and collaborating with other cities to share what has proved successful.

Data and digital

The roadmap provides a non-statutory approach to develop the use of data and digital technologies in dealing with a number of public service issues in transport, the environment, housing, culture, economic development and the implementation of the London Plan.

“Many of London’s advances in the application of data and smart technologies are globally recognised,” Khan said. “We have clearly taken great steps but I want us to do even more to meet the needs of Londoners.

“As one of the world’s leading technology hubs, we need to be bold and think big, to experiment and try things out that have not been done elsewhere. I see London’s future as a global testbed city for civic innovation, where the best ideas are developed, amplified and scaled.

“To solve the biggest problems our great city faces, I am calling for an ever more collaborative approach than ever. We need our public services, major universities and technology community to mobilise their resources in new ways and partner with us to make London a fairer and more prosperous place.”

London’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell added that one of the ambitions will be to eradicate ‘not spots’ for mobile coverage, and strike a deal with citizens on the appropriate use of their data.

Khan also emphasised the capabilities of the capital’s digital tech sector, with a report from artificial intelligence (AI) advice platform provider CognitionX that shows the city is home to 758 companies in the field.

 Image by Michael Gwyther-Jones, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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