London’s first ever Chief Digital Officer says his new position is an amazing opportunity to make the capital even more open to innovation, support jobs and investment and make our public services more effective.
Theo Blackwell’s job will be to deliver the ambition to make London the world’s smartest city, “ensuring that the capital’s status as a global tech hub helps transform the way public services are designed and delivered, making them more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners”. The appointment fulfils a manifesto commitment made by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan.
He joins the team following work at GovTech accelerator Public Group, advising start-ups on the growing market in local public services, and was previously Head of Policy & Public Affairs for the video games industry’s trade body, Ukie – where he ran a ‘Next Gen Skills’ campaign to get coding back on the curriculum.
Blackwell has more than 20 years’ experience in technology and digital transformation in both the public and private sector and he also sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Leaders and is a director of Camden Town Unlimited, a Business Improvement District which pioneered new start-up incubation in “meanwhile” space.
Theo will work closely with the Mayor’s Smart London Board to develop a new Smart London Plan, and will play a central role in building collaboration across London’s boroughs, and businesses, to drive the digital transformation of public services, as well as supporting the spread of innovation through common technology standards and better data-sharing.
Theo will also promote manifesto ambitions around pan-London collaboration on connectivity, digital inclusion, cyber-security and open data. He will also focus on scoping work for the London Office for Technology & Innovation that was announced by the Mayor at London Tech Week.
London already has more than 47,000 digital technology companies, employing approximately 240,000 people. It is forecast that the number of tech companies will increase by a third and a further 44,500 jobs will have been created by 2026.
The capital is also racing ahead with new technologies, using it for ticketing and contactless on the transport network, while the London Datastore is an open resource with vast amounts of data about all areas of the city, and tech start-ups have used this open data to create innovative new apps.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “I am determined to make London the world’s leading smart city with digital technology and data at the heart of making our capital a better place to live, work and visit. We already lead in digital technology, data science and innovation and I want us to make full use of this in transforming our public services for Londoners and the millions of visitors to our great city. I am delighted to appoint Theo Blackwell as London’s first Chief Digital Officer, and I know he will use his experience working in the technology sector and developing public services to improve the lives of all Londoners.”
Blackwell added, “The pace of change over the next decade requires public services to develop a stronger relationship with the tech sector. Our purpose is to fully harness London’s world-class potential to make our public services faster and more reliable at doing things we expect online, but also adaptable enough to overcome the capital’s most complex challenges.”
(Picture credit – LinkedIn)