Public Services > Local Government

Theo Blackwell outlines Smart London Plan

Matteo Natalucci Published 08 November 2017

Digital leadership, foundation and assistance at the core of plan to digitise London


London’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell yesterday outlined his Smart London Plan at a London Assembly Economy Committee meeting.

Blackwell identified as his first priority the development of digital leadership by developing a new Smart London Plan, strengthening the digital foundations of London’s public services to innovate and work with the govtech sector, while acting as a digital ambassador, highlighting the immense innovation across London.

Blackwell listed the three themes which constitute the plan, which is set to be operational by the beginning of 2018. 

The first theme is digital leadership, with the first goal being to provide strategic alignment and consistency across the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) digital strategies, in particular the economic development strategy which is regarded as being key to the development of the London digital plan.

The intention is to bring a consistency of language and meaning to enhance communication and understanding with boroughs.

The second part is developing the internal capacity for change, described as ‘digital understanding’. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has already committed funds for the development of this capacity and plans are expected to be published shortly about the rollout.

Another theme is establishing digital foundations, meaning the “actual glue that gets public services to collaborate on the digital transformation agenda”. These digital foundations have been discussed with London’s boroughs, with a research group working with local chief executives and service directors to help create a “coalition of the willing” i.e. those boroughs that are really committed to cooperate on the digital agenda.

Blackwell said, “These digital foundations at the moment have been researched in the boroughs by a consortiums of FutureGov, the engineering firm Arup and Stance which is headed up by the former chief technology officer of the government digital service Andy Beale”.

Blackwell believes that previous attempts to encourage the boroughs to work together have not necessarily been successful, suggesting that shared believes and approaches are more effective in achieving shared goals. 

The third theme is to promote London as a place for the digital economy.

Blackwell identified London Tech Week as the main vehicle for achieving this, arguing it is the perfect opportunity to promote worldwide London as a place for innovation, as well as other initiatives such as diversity in technology and solutions to deal with digital inclusion.


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