London could soon have its own chief digital officer to oversee digital transformation across government in the capital.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in CityAM earlier this week that he wants data and innovative tech solutions to help deliver public services more easily and efficiently, and that a chief digital officer (CDO) would oversee these initiatives.
His comments come after a panel of experts suggested in a report in March that the next Mayor of London should appoint a digital leader, whether it be a chief technology officer (CTO), chief information officer (CIO) or a CDO, or perhaps even more than one of those roles. The experts suggested that a CDO is the preferred option.
A report by the Greater London Authority, dubbed Future Smart, suggested that the next mayor should "examine options for enhancing city leadership in data technology".
A new report by London First, Centre for London and Bloomberg Associates suggested earlier this week that the role of the CDO should focus on three main themes: to provide policy advice and digital expertise; to champion digital transformation across London government; and to seek out and share best practice.
The report was put together with the help of some London councils, Intel, Tech City UK and Nesta, among others.
Tim Scott, programme director at London First, and Kat Hanna, research manager at the Centre of London, said in a blog post that Khan's announcement about hiring a CDO will be a "crowd pleaser".
But the risk is that the role will merely become "a muddled dumping group for all things tech-related, from broadband, to digital skills, office space and regulation".
The post explained that their report has therefore clearly defined the scope of the CDO role, which should be to provide policy advice and direction on behalf of the Mayor.
This includes anticipating the effects of new technologies, and supporting innovation by promoting open standards and interoperability, for example.
They also suggest that the CDO should work across London government to find ways to support London's growing population. This may include using open data to better plan transport infrastructure, and using blockchain technology to register land assets.
The report calls for the CDO to establish and lead a network of public and private sector CDOs, CTOs, CIOs and political leads across the London boroughs to avoid duplication of the role and any initiatives.
In the longer term, Scott and Hanna said that the CDO should forge similar connections with other global cities and develop new partnerships.
Reports suggest that the CDO could be hired within weeks.
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