by Johnny Munro 18th June, 2019

Smarter London Together: engaging with City Hall’s ambitious plans for a digital London

A fundamental strength of London is its flourishing technology scene. The city is now a key hub for Medtech, EdTech, innovations in mobility, as well as the global hub for FinTech, LegalTech and professional services.

Yet, the pace of London boroughs to grasp some of the benefits of this digital revolution has been glacial until now. Around half of the 33 London boroughs are due to adopt a digital strategy for their area in 2018/19, many of which have been languishing in Town Halls since the 2018 local elections.

Thankfully, 2019 looks to be a key moment in the digital transformation of the city, providing huge opportunities for those with a digital offering to approach London boroughs and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Last year, the Mayor of London launched Smarter London Together– his road map to make London ‘the smartest city in the world’. London’s scale – 33 local authorities, more than 40 NHS Trusts, large regeneration opportunity areas and major public agencies like TfL and the Met serving a population of nine million citizens – means there is a huge opportunity to test, embed and scale digital projects.

In order to deliver his strategy, the Mayor has identified 5 key ‘missions’ for the next 5 years, starting on London Tech week 2019. His missions include: more user designed digital services, a new deal for city data, ensuring London has world class connectivity and enhancing digital skills across the city. In true tech fashion, the Mayor has made explicit exactly what needs to happen in these areas, which can be viewed in a publicly accessible ‘to do’ list.

The Mayor has also shared on his list what has already been delivered in conjunction with private businesses, such as successfully changing planning policies to mandate new developments across London provide full fibre connectivity to the home.

Yet, there are huge swathes of his Smarter London plan where private organisations, with their expert knowledge and innovative ideas can help. For example, the Mayor is asking for help on topics such as ‘proposing guidance on smart infrastructure’, or ‘supporting digital skills and computing initiatives’. There is still concern from some London boroughs that a rapid technological change in the delivery of public services will leave large sections of the population out if implementation is not thought out and managed properly.

2019 will be a huge year of technological innovation in London, and tech firms who can position themselves as a partner to City Hall for the next five years – offering advice, insight and a commitment to help develop digital services that benefit all will be the big winners.

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