- London Mayor Sadiq Kahn is seeking input on measures city hall can take to make London a smarter city. The input will be used in developing the Smart London Plan, which is led by the city's first chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell.
- The "listening exercise" asks for ideas on how to collaborate better across all the London boroughs; share data and build greater public trust and security in the use of data; make London more connected and prepared for 5G; equip Londoners with digital skills; and ensure London has responsible, open and inclusive tech.
- Once input is considered, the plan will be written in partnership with Bloomberg Associates and launched at London Tech Week in June.
During the 2017 London Tech Week, Mayor Kahn announced his ambitions to make London the world's "smartest city," noting that London would maintain its global competitiveness and focus on innovation despite Brexit. His focus at the time was primarily on combating climate change, for which he unveiled a new $2 million incubator —dubbed Better Futures — to help small businesses develop green tech products.
While Kahn has made progress on that goal of tackling climate change — he released a thorough environmental strategy in August and signed the Fossil-Fuel Free Streets Declaration in October — this listening exercise centers primarily around leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to boost the city's digital economy. Furthermore, the Smart London Plan aims to position London as the leading global market for technology and innovation, which may be a challenge as cities like Singapore and New York increase their competitiveness in the tech sector.
London is off to a significant start, however, since Kahn's announcement seven months ago. Under guidance of the Smart London Board, the city has tested police body cameras, air quality sensors and a contactless card ticketing system, but there is certainly room for growth.
"In the future, technologies like immersive virtual reality will be used to engage Londoners about how they want their city to work, and in some cases to co-design, deliver and manage city spaces and services making them more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners," Blackwell wrote in a Medium post. Businesses, city workers and citizens have until the end of March to submit ideas on how to make these future ambitions a reality.