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July 9, 2018

London’s roadmap to become the ‘world’s smartest city’

By Harry Wells and Jonathan Andrews, Cities Today

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has launched a roadmap to better utilise tech and data to make London the smartest city in the world.

Smarter London Together includes more than 20 initiatives designed to support the development of the next generation of smart technology and promote greater data sharing among the city’s public services.

“To solve the biggest problems our great city faces, I am calling for a more collaborative approach than ever,” he said at the launch. “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.”

‘As one of the world’s leading technology hubs, we need to be bold and think big.’ – Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Plans include achieving full fibre connectivity for all new homes and supporting the commission of smart technology such as a ‘hyper local’ sensor network, which will create the world’s most sophisticated air monitoring system in the UK capital.

Khan has also pledged £365,000 to form the London Office of Data Analytics, facilitating closer relationships between local authorities, universities and the tech community.

Theo Blackwell, London’s first Chief Digital Officer–appointed last year by the mayor–will be in charge of implementing the roadmap.

“[It] focuses on getting the foundations for the future right,” said Blackwell at the We.MakeThe.City festival in Amsterdam in June. “Digital connectivity is now rightly seen by Londoners [to be] as important as other utilities.”

A significant challenge for the city is air pollution. Scientists have said that contaminated air costs London’s economy £3.7 billion.

From July, 100 sensors will be attached to lamp posts and buildings in the most affected areas, alongside two dedicated Google Street View cars that will record air quality in greater detail than before.

Khan commented: “London’s toxic air is leading to the premature deaths of thousands of Londoners every year so I am pleased that we are embracing the very latest smart technology to monitor hot-spots and demonstrate how effective our policies to combat this global issue are.”

A new Connected London programme is also proposed to coordinate efforts and increase connectivity in the city. Measures include expanding public Wi-Fi in streets and buildings, supporting 5G projects and promoting a new generation of smart infrastructure to help solve the city’s biggest challenges.

“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,” added Khan. “I see London’s future as a global ‘test-bed city’ for civic innovation, where the best ideas are developed, amplified and scaled.”

To ensure stakeholders and citizens can follow the implementation of the roadmap, actions taken are being updated live online. In the first year, it is expected the city will deliver better connectivity and more ‘smart streets’. A report card will also be presented every year at London Tech Week to provide an annual review of the roadmap’s progress.

The original version of this article first appeared on Cities Today. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

London's roadmap to become the 'world’s smartest city'

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