For advanced learners
London is one of the greatest cities on earth. A world centre of commerce and a global cultural hot spot, London is diverse, connected, international and cosmopolitan. Its dynamic economy with renowned strengths in creativity and design, science and technology, banking and finance offers the most competitive and productive business environment in Europe. London is a centre of knowledge production, invention and entrepreneurship, with more technology companies than any other European city. London is a world leader in healthcare delivery for its citizens, and in diagnosing, discovering and providing treatments to tackle the pressing needs of global cities.
London’s population was estimated to grow by a million from 2011 to 2021 the fastest rate of acceleration ever. London is going to hit nine million before New York, and approach ten million by 2030. With these demographic projections, it will have at least another 641,000 jobs, another 800,000 homes, and more than 600,000 extra passengers will need to travel by public transport at peak times by 2031. There will also be the challenge of dealing with ever increasing waste and meeting extra pressure on healthcare and energy supplies.
The ‘smart city’ agenda is gathering momentum. The drivers are clear, fuelled by increasing constraints on urban resources, such as transport, energy and healthcare and our desire to provide attractive and enjoyable places to live and work. London also has to plan for population growth and avoid peak-load and congestion on its infrastructure.
Nothing stands still. London is entering a period of technological innovation. Rapid growth of mobile internet applications, the internet-of-things, cloud computing and insights from big data, offer new business opportunities and can improve quality of life. Data is the new infrastructure and London is ideally placed to lead its development and use. Missing these opportunities could leave it in second place for years to come. The idea is simple. A smarter London must be a place in which people want to live, work and play. It will host talent, support and accommodate population growth and sustainable prosperity. A smarter London recognises and employs data as a service. It will enable informed decision making and the design of new activities. It will allow ‘business as usual’, with greater efficiency: easier, faster, cheaper. A smarter London is not a single, final solution, but a series of evolving interventions in response to our changing needs. Since it was formed in March 2013, the Smart London Board has been advising the Greater London Authority. It is defining a vision for a smarter London and a tangible path to integrate opportunities from new digital technologies into the fabric of London. This Smart London Plan is the starting point for London to engage and shape the future collectively.
The Smart London Board was created by the Mayor of London in March 2013 to shape and implement London’s strategy to ensure digital technology makes London an even better experience for all. The board has a group of experts, including academics, business leaders and entrepreneurs. The board advises the Mayor and the London Enterprise Panel, on how London can best use its technology and data to enable more integrated solutions to addressing London’s challenges to make sure it remains one of the world’s most competitive and liveable cities. The board puts Londoners and London’s businesses at the heart of this process.
London has already been recognised as a leader in digital innovation, and a pioneer in open data. The London Data store was one of the first platforms to make public data open and accessible, driving citizen engagement, innovation and the development of new applications. London’s dashboard visualises the ‘pulse’ of the capital displaying data on anything from Tube delays, to house prices and crime rates. The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London has linked London’s data to an iPad wall at City Hall. Built around the concept of a control room, the Mayor can visualise the capital’s performance in real time. The management of London’s passenger and road transport systems is amongst the most advanced in the world. Innovations include: Congestion Charging using number plate recognition, which has reduced vehicle numbers in the central business district by over 70,000 a day, the intelligent road network management systems trialled during the Olympics, the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme and Wi-Fi on the Tube. London’s move towards digital money is bringing efficiency savings from Transport for London’s contactless Oyster card to using credit and debit cards to instantly pay for travel. Technology companies are establishing London as a global showcase, and are collaborating with London's world class research institutions.
In order to succeed, ‘Smart London’ must put its people at the core, where Londoners drive innovation as much as technologists, investors or policy agendas to make London an even greater city. The capital presents a particularly challenging environment, reflecting its scale, diversity and complexity, including high levels of inequality. Innovations in technology and the use of data are presenting new ways of meeting peoples’ needs, but not all Londoners have access to the technology, or the skills to use it. Engaging London’s diverse communities and enabling digital inclusion must be a priority.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) created the Talk London community, to bring Londoners into the policy making process. Talk London hosts online discussions, polls, live Q&A events, surveys and focus groups discussing a wide range of topics from improving standards in the private rented sector to cyclist safety around HGVs (heavy goods vehicles). Through the community, Londoners are taking part in policy conversations to generate new ideas.
Engagement starts with education and public debate. Every citizen needs to understand the basics of privacy, technology and interpretation of data. Schools and universities will play an important role, but new public institutes can also further the debate around the role that technology can, and should, play. The ‘Tech City Institute’ will provide a unique space for citizens to come together and discuss, learn and understand not just the role of the new technologies but also how they impact different parts of society.