Keeping London Smart

Dec 18, 2017 · Guest Post from George Johnston, CEO of Tech City Ventures

Screen shot 2017 12 18 at 16.16.02

Bristol has become the UK’s leading smart city in the UK, pushing London off the top spot – but it’s not bad news for the capital.

It’s still recognised as a leader in the smart city movement and, with significant investment made into its digital commitments this year, it’s evident that London is not going down without a fight.

This year alone, the Mayor’s Office has set out some bold ambitions, supported by action and investment including:

· Creating a London Office of Technology and Innovation and a Chief Digital Officer role

· Launching a City DataStore

· Investing in research, activities and partnerships, such as a venture with the Alan Turing Institute to help measure air quality in London

· Completing a Transport for London innovation programme with six early-stage startups

All too often, smart cities conjure visions of a world in which everything is digitised. And, by extension, a world where a significant amount of investment is required into infrastructure to allow this – through setting up data collection points in the form of sensors, recording devices and even manual data capture portals.

The mistake lies in thinking that new data is needed when, in fact, there are already huge volumes of data available for exploration. This is why open data projects are often a central tenet of smart city initiatives and are an area that I’m particularly passionate about.

The UK Smart Cities Index shows that competition is heating up in the smart city space nationwide. This is only a good thing.

Collectively, these efforts will help to improve the quality of life for UK citizens and position the country as a global leader. And with more ideas being implemented across the country, the opportunity to share learnings and amplify the best initiatives means that everyone wins.

The Smart Cities UK conference, taking place on 1 February in London, looks to provide a forum for just this. I’ll be speaking there about the power of big data with relation to the advancement of positive social and economic outcomes – and also learning more about what’s happening in data, citizen engagement, infrastructure and more.

With the end of the year in sight, and predictions being made for next year, I firmly believe that 2018 will be a big year for the UK’s smart cities and data. Watch this space.


George Johnston, CEO of Tech City Ventures

George Johnston is CEO of Tech City Ventures, a network of organisations that amplify and nurture startup talent. The Nitrous programme has launched its first cycle which sees six elite startups working directly with Transport for London to reduce congestion.

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