London’s technology market worth GBP 19 billion is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It has over 40,000 digital businesses and 200,000 employees. The Smart London Plan was published in 2013 to leverage this market to improve the experience of London for everyone. Set within the overarching framework of the Mayor’s 2020 vision, the Smart London Plan looked forward to new approaches that digital technology can bring to support London’s future growth. The Plan was prepared by Smart London Board formed in 2013 under the Mayor of London. The Plan focused on actions that were to be undertaken between 2013 and the end of the Mayoral term in 2016.
The Smart London Plan leverages on London’s innovation lead to drive change with further investment in technology and data to offer Londoners better services; create efficient savings; and lead improvements in enterprise, skills and training, infrastructure and environment, health and well being and transport in London. The term ‘smart city’ means different things to different people. Smart London is about how London as a whole functions as a result of the interplay between its ‘systems’ – from local labour markets to financial markets, from local government to education, healthcare, transportation and utilities. The objective of the Plan was to create an ecosystem where the linkages between these different systems are better understood, where digital technology is used to better integrate these different systems, and London as a whole works more efficiently. The Smart London Venn diagram illustrates the starting approach of the Plan that put Londoners at the core – driven by the principles of openness, collaboration, innovation and engagement.
The Smart London Plan identified three opportunity areas for using innovations and advancements in digital technology.
- To engage citizens- by focussing on inclusive digital engagement and improving digital skills for all.
- To enable good growth- by building resilient digital infrastructure, making more data available and investing in innovation.
- To work with businesses- by breaking down boundaries, supporting common standards and smarter regulations, and scaling-up innovation.
Seven aims in of the Smart London Plan targeted these opportunity areas.
- The Plan placed Londoner’s at the core by seeking citizen opinion of what a “Smart London” should look like, and deliver. Using digital and offline tools, the plan strategised citizen engagement that is inclusive.
- The Plan promoted open data, such that relevant data on demand, consumption, services and operations is made available for public. The plan encouraged public and private organisations to open their data and aggregate data sets and sensors networks across London into developer friendly platform.
- The Plan encouraged the energy and talent in London to solve the city’s challenges by hosting Innovation challenges, showcasing investment opportunities for global finance, and providing the necessary ecosystem for start-ups in the city to grow.
- The Plan brought together the innovation ecosystem created by various organisations including university led activities, corporate led activity, not for profit, public bodies and others in the city for a strategic collaboration to create real efficiencies across London to scale up successful projects.
- The Plan supported the use of data to identify and plan ‘opportunity areas’- localities and sectors for development. It supported digital solutions across city utilities such as water metering, solid waste management, traffic management, etc.
- The Plan identified the need for the city authorities to work in an integrated manner by sharing data and analytics and identifying strategic opportunities for applying data and technology for efficiency.
- The Plan harnessed digital technology to enhance the experience of London for all by investing in wireless networks and digital solutions such as journey planning, digital money etc.
The aims of the Plan was further enhanced with a set of milestones/ indicators to measure success. Some of these milestones/ indicators were measured at the end of the Mayoral term in 2016 and others, which will take longer to affect, measured later. The Smart London Plan was followed up with an update report – The Future of Smart in 2016, which provided the status of implementation of the strategies/ activities within the seven aims of the Smart London Plan. This report shared the supporting data and statistics for the progress till 2016 in each of the activities within the seven aims of the 2013 Smart London Plan. The Smart London Plan positions itself in synergy with the Mayors vision 2020 and provides inputs to Mayors Infrastructure Plan 2050. Mayor’s technology programmes in London are guided by the Smart London Plan. The plan hence functions as a digital overlay to the ongoing and proposed interventions/projects in the city.