The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is following through on his election pledge to hire an officer who will oversee London's technological growth in the years to come. The first ever chief digital officer for London will be in charge of making sure it is the world's smartest city, said Khan in his tweet announcing the start of his search this morning.
In his election manifesto, Khan promised to appoint a chief digital officer, who would put together a cybersecurity strategy, create and maintain digital inclusion for all Londoners, and oversee growth in the technology sector. The job specification for the role mentions all of these, as well as working towards achieving common standards across the different organizations that manage London's growth and development, and helping the UK's capital to become the world's leading smart city.
The job spec says the role will be suited to someone "who understands how technology can be used and developed to make government, public services and decision making better." As well as this, the candidate must be a "powerful advocate for technology" and a "team worker" who can "lead by example."
The successful candidate can expect to earn a salary of up to £106,952. It's likely Khan will have more than a few applicants...
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is ponying up nearly £107k for a Chief Digital Officer... form an orderly queue!
London already has a variety of digital technology platforms set up around the city; contactless payments on the London Underground and in buses is one obvious example. The job specification implies, however, that the integration of technology into the fabric of the city could go deeper, driving London towards the goal of becoming the world's leading smart city.
Dale Lovell, the chief digital officer and UK managing director at digital advertising company Adyoulike, sees the appointment as a good move by Khan, saying the role will be a "critical need" in the years to come. "To really achieve a 'smart city' status with the aim of growing and building London's reputation as the city that the world looks to for leadership in urban innovation, the Mayor needs to encourage a digital first mindset. That means agile ways of thinking, future-proofing public spending on new projects -- with digital infrastructure planned in -- and also encouraging and launching initiatives for all businesses and organisations within London to embrace digital."
Official figures show that London is home to around 40,000 digital technology companies, many located in the area surrounding Old Street roundabout, known as Tech City. Some of these companies are global giants, including Facebook, Google, Snap and Microsoft, while others are small startups with just a few employees. Whatever their size, these businesses will likely be vital to Khan's goal of making London the city the world looks to for leadership and innovation in technology. Events such as London Tech Week will surely help to cement that image.
So how is London doing so far? Well, as previously noted on TechX365, the UK's capital has plenty of work to do to boost its smart credentials. (See Is London Really Becoming a Smart City?)
Yet it's still very near the top of the pile in a global ranking of the world's Top 25 Most High-Tech Cities, devised by research firm 2thinknow and published by Business Insider: In that list, London ranks second, behind San Francisco and ahead of New York City, Singapore, and Seoul.
Londoners, is that ranking deserved? Let us know what you think on the message boards below.
— Phil Oakley, Site Editor, TechX365