Three of London’s most influential technology and policy organisations have released a manifesto calling for the next mayor of the capital to put technology at the heart of the city’s future.
London’s Digital Future: The Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016 by Tech London Advocates, TechUK and the Centre for London lays out a comprehensive vision for a city that uses digital technologies and innovation to benefit economic growth, governance and citizens.
The manifesto has been presented to mayoral candidates from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties.
Ben Rogers, director of Centre for London, championed the need for the next mayor to acknowledge and engage with the technology sector's influence on the capital.
“The responsibility of the next mayor of London is to ensure that London gets the best of the digital revolution. This is not about a set of policies for one sector, but a set of policies that will benefit London as a whole,” he said.
Charlotte Holloway, associate director at TechUK, added: “We need a forward-looking City Hall that leads by example, from championing digital government, to opening up the city’s data and sticking up for London on the need for skilled migration.”
The three organisations have access to 2,500 technology professionals, business chiefs and companies, as well as expertise from London’s only dedicated think-tank.
The manifesto was drawn up to include 13 policy recommendations covering five areas that look to address London’s future-proofing: infrastructure; investment and funding; skills; immigration; and digital London government.
Therer are five significant recommendations for the next London mayor, the first of which is to hire a chief digital officer to oversee the sharing and analysis of data for improving the city’s public and private services.
The second involves improving visa allocation for technology professionals, which includes a call to reinstate the Post-Study Work visa scrapped by the coalition government in 2012.
Keeping in line with building skills in London, the third encourages the establishment of a “tech talent pipeline” which involves working with education professionals and entrepreneurs to train Londoners in digital skills.
Fourth is to champion London’s digital economy on a global scale through trade missions, while the fifth is to conduct a comprehensive innovation audit to ascertain the effects of regulation on new digital services.
Other recommendations include addressing dead zones for broadband and making London a world leader in cyber security.
The recommendations were established by the expertise of the organisations and a survey of over 300 members of London’s technology community, and reflect the areas on which the technology industry in the capital wants the focus to be directed.
Author’s view: It could be argued that London’s technology sector is already well ahead of other cities in Europe and further afield with the three organisations, a healthy digital startup community, and the likes of Tech City UK championing the capital’s technology scene.
I would prefer these technology and policy organisations to perhaps focus on how London can work with other UK cities to fuel the technology industry’s growth across the UK and stop the capital sapping talent, investment and potential growth from the rest of the nation.
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