Mayor launches roadmap to make London the world’s smartest city; including the Civic Innovation Challenge

Today Sadiq Khan launched a major city-wide initiative to harness London’s tech talent in tackling some of the capital’s most pressing challenges – including poor air quality, urban design and digital connectivity – as he published his vision to make London the world’s smartest city.

The Mayor of London was speaking at the launch of this year’s London Tech Week, which showcases the city as Europe’s tech capital across more than 200 events attended by 50,000 people from around the world.

Sadiq also launched a new piece of research that underline London’s position as a leading tech hub. He launched a report on London’s artificial intelligence ecosystem from CognitionX, which shows the capital is home to 758 artificial intelligence companies, more than twice as many as its closest rivals Paris and Berlin combined.

And figures collated by Pitchbook have revealed that UK tech companies received more than £5 billion in Venture Capital funding since the EU referendum – more than France, Germany and Sweden combined – of which London attracted more than £4 billion.

Today the Mayor published Smarter London Together – his roadmap for how he will realize his ambition to make London the world’s smartest city. In it the Mayor sets out how he will help the city’s public services use tech and data to improve the lives of all Londoners.

The roadmap includes more than 20 initiatives – one of which is the Civic Innovation Challenge, which will play a major role in establishing London as a test-bed for technological innovation, as well as supporting the development of smart infrastructure and attracting investment in dynamic new businesses. It will match tech startups with leading companies and public bodies to tackle some of London’s most pressing problems, including inequality, climate change and London’s ageing population.


Examples of the challenges include:

  • Lloyds Banking Group is searching for creative solutions to tackle inequality by increasing financial inclusion, which is shown to restrict people’s economic opportunities and make it harder to move out of poverty. The projects will be aimed at helping Londoners access banking and other services as well as helping them manage their money more effectively.
  • NHS trusts in south east London will search for partners to help develop a digital archive of material reminiscence therapy designed for Londoners of a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. This therapy uses video, audio and images to trigger long-term memories in dementia patients, but currently services tend to only be relevant to white Londoners;
  • To tackle inequality and climate change – and make the city more liveable – TfL is looking for tech startups to help encourage all people to walk more instead of using polluting forms of transport, as well as solutions which can help TfL deliver homes across London, in line with the London Plan.


Among Sadiq’s plans are:

  • a bold new approach to connectivity, including proposing planning powers for full fibre connectivity to all new homes, working with Transport for London (TfL) and councils to roll out 4G using public buildings and existing physical infrastructure, and supporting bids for government funding to test 5G connectivity
  • promoting greater data sharing among public services through the London Office of Data Analytics – in which the Mayor will invest £365,000 – and the proposal of a new body to foster closer working between local authorities, universities and the tech community;
  • supporting the commission of a new generation of smart technology (such as lamp posts incorporating air quality sensors, publicly-accessible WIFI and electric vehicle charging points)
  • proposals to develop a pan-London cyber-security strategy, drawing together new and existing bodies including the London Digital Security Centre and the London Cyber Innovation Centre, in response to Londoners’ concerns about the use of their data and online safety; and


A smart city is a collaborative, connected and responsive city which uses technology and data-sharing to make it a better place to live, work, visit and study – all of which is at the heart of Sadiq’s agenda.

In recent years, London has lead the way in innovation which has gone on to have a significant impact on people’s lives, from the introduction of contactless payment on the transport network – which is used to make five million journeys on the transport network every day and has led to similar systems around the world – to the roll-out of body-worn video cameras across the Metropolitan Police Service, which has increased police accountability and public confidence.

City Hall and TfL’s use of open data continues to fuel the creation of new apps used by Londoners every day.

The Mayor officially launched London Tech Week today at the Francis Crick Institute where he spoke to an audience of young Londoners from some secondary schools and universities including Imperial College London, Kings College London and Middlesex University London.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “A year ago I announced my ambition to make London the world’s leading smart city. Today I am proud to unveil my vision for making that ambition a reality. We need a step-change in how we harness innovation for the benefit of all Londoners.

“Many of London’s advances in the application of data and smart technologies are globally recognized. We have clearly taken great steps but I want us to do even more to meet the needs of Londoners.

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

“To solve the biggest problems our great city faces, I am calling for an ever-more collaborative approach than ever. We need our public services, major universities and technology community to mobilize their resources in new ways and partner with us to make London a fairer and more prosperous place.”


Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “The new roadmap focuses on getting the foundations for the future right. Digital connectivity is now rightly seen by Londoners as important as their other utilities.

“We will properly mobilise the city’s resources to end not-spots, and propose planning powers to ensure new developments are connected. We will put peoples’ priorities first through the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge to mobilise the best in the tech sector to help solve urban problems.

“We will strike a new deal with citizens on use of their data so when it is appropriate to share data, it is done in a trusted, safe way and for public benefit. Tech jobs should open for Londoners and we will invest in skills and support efforts to make the tech sector more diverse.

“All of this will succeed only through collaboration and partnership, which we are committed to. We call on the tech community in all its forms across London to join us in this challenge.


Jen Hawes-Hewitt, Smarter London Board member, and UK Cities lead at Accenture, commented:  ”This plan marks an important step in making London one of the world’s smartest capital cities.  Coupling the power of data with human-centred design can bring a step change in public service delivery. Creation of a diverse pool of talent is also critical. This plan sets out a number of digital initiatives to help to solve many of London’s challenges and create new opportunities. I am excited to see this move to the next logical step and be put into practice.”


Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at TfL, said: “We are really looking forward to working with startups and other partners to ensure Londoners have good access to homes and can easily travel around the city. This is central to quickly developing innovative solutions to deliver more homes and offer better options to encourage more journeys to be made by walking, cycling, and public transport.”


Eileen Burbidge, London Tech Week Ambassador, and Partner at Passion Capital said: “London is leading the way in developing innovative technologies in sectors such as Fintech and Artificial Intelligence. These technologies not only have the potential to change the way we do business but can also transform our cities to make them better places to live. London Tech Week will see some of the best minds gather in London from all over the world and there is a great opportunity for us to work together with other tech hubs and the global start-up community to tackle urban challenges.”