London smart city, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with a history stretching back to Roman times. At its center stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower, and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex and the entire city.
London smart city strategy
Here are some interesting stats and facts about London’s smart city strategy:
London is one of the largest and most populous cities in Europe, with a population of over 9 million people.
The city’s smart city strategy is focused on improving the quality of life for its residents by leveraging technology to make the city more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive.
One of the key initiatives of London’s smart city strategy is the deployment of free public Wi-Fi throughout the city. As of 2021, there are over 7,500 free Wi-Fi access points in London, making it one of the most connected cities in the world.
London has also implemented an innovative traffic management system that uses real-time data to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion. The system includes smart traffic lights, which are able to adapt to changing traffic patterns in real-time, and a network of cameras and sensors that monitor traffic and provide data to the system.
The city has also implemented an open data policy, which makes city data available to the public for use in developing new applications and services. This policy has helped to spur innovation in areas such as transportation, healthcare, and education.
London is also working on a project called the “Green Grid,” which is a network of green spaces and corridors that connect parks, gardens, and other green spaces throughout the city. The goal of this project is to improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, and provide residents with access to nature.
London has also launched a program called the “Sharing Cities” initiative, which is focused on developing new solutions for sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and citizen engagement. The program includes pilot projects in areas such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, smart street lighting, and community energy projects.
Overall, London’s smart city strategy demonstrates the city’s commitment to leveraging technology and innovation to improve the quality of life for its residents and create a more sustainable and inclusive urban environment. These initiatives have the potential to serve as models for other cities around the world.
Smart City London, United Kingdom
3.007 Smart Points
London is the tech capital of Europe – by size, level of investment, and the presence of more than a third of Europe’s billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ companies. The capital is home to 46,000 tech companies, supporting 240,000 jobs in an ecosystem worth an estimated $44bn. This has grown at pace – between 2006 and 2016 London’s digital sector recorded 77 percent employment growth and a 90 percent rise in the number of digital enterprises. And business is booming too – with tech turnover reaching £56bn in 2016, measuring a 106 percent increase over five years.
The goals of the Smart City London Board
- Inform and support the Mayor’s efforts to deliver data and digital-driven improvements to London
- Develop partnerships that bring resources for (new) smart technology projects and programs
- Guide the Mayor with best practices and benchmark London against other world cities
- Be ambassadors for the Mayor and the smart cities sector in London and overseas
- Smarter London Together
The board supports the delivery of Smarter London Together, the Mayor’s roadmap to make London ‘the smartest city in the world’. This roadmap sets out how the Mayor will collaborate with the capital’s boroughs and services from Transport for London to the NHS. The Mayor also wants to work more effectively with the tech community, our universities, and other cities.
The Mayor sees London’s future as a global test-bed city for innovation where the best ideas – e.g. from the AI sector – are developed here with the highest standards for privacy and security and then spread around the world.
The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge
The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge offers an opportunity for start-ups to work together with leading corporates and public organizations to tackle some of London’s most pressing problems. This is a challenge for start-ups to develop innovative solutions to democratizing planning, tackling congestion in the capital, and countering violent extremism online.
The London Smart City Civic Innovation Challenge
The Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge not only delivers benefits to Londoners but also offers a route to market for tech start-ups – a unique chance to access the insight, expertise, cutting-edge data, and pilot sites of our partners.
Last year, we ran seven challenges spanning areas such as active travel, creating culturally representative dementia resources, electric vehicle charging, increasing uptake in physical exercise, and tackling loneliness.
The 2018 Challenge resulted in the creation of entirely new products based on direct learning from the market and has constituted the beginning of long-term relationships for several companies.
Smarter London Together
London’s future plans are to become a global test-bed city for innovation where the best ideas – eg from the AI sector – are developed here with the highest standards for privacy and security, and spread around the world. They do that in five missions:
- Data sharing
The roadmap does not end here – we will be updating you on our medium blog and our Trello board with progress on new projects, collaboration opportunities, and results.
Mission 1: More user-designed services
- Leadership in design and common standards to put users at the heart of what we do
- Develop new approaches to digital inclusion to support Londoners’ access to public services
- Launch the Civic Innovation Challenge to spur innovation from the tech sector
- Explore new civic platforms to engage citizens and communities better
- Promote more diversity in tech to address inequality
Mission 2: Strike a new deal for city data
- Launch the London Office for Data Analytics (LODA) program to increase data sharing and collaboration for the benefit of Londoners
- Develop a city-wide cybersecurity strategy to coordinate responses to cyber-threats to businesses, public services, and citizens
- strengthen data rights and accountability to build trust in how public data is used
- support an open ecosystem to increase transparency and innovation
- World-class connectivity and smarter streets
Mission 3: World-class connectivity and smarter streets
- Launch a new Connected London program to coordinate connectivity and 5G projects
- Consider planning powers, like requiring full-fiber to the home for all new developments, to enhance connectivity in the future
- Enhance public wifi in streets and public buildings to assist those who live, work and visit London
- Support a new generation of smart infrastructure through major combined procurements
- Promote common standards with smart tech to maximize benefits
Mission 4: Enhance digital leadership and skills
- Enhance digital and data leadership to make public services more open to innovation
- Develop workforce digital capability through the Mayor’s Skills for Londoners Strategy
- Support computing skills and the digital talent pipeline Londoners from early years onwards
- Recognize the role of cultural institutions engaging citizens in the digital world
Mission 5: Improve city-wide collaboration
- Establish a London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) to support common capabilities and standards for future innovation
- Promote MedTech innovation in the NHS and social care to improve treatment
- Explore new partnerships with the tech sector and business models
- Support better GLA Group digital delivery to improve the effectiveness
- Collaborate with other cities in the UK and globally to adopt and share what works
The roadmap and Mayoral strategies
The Smarter London Together roadmap is a non-statutory document adopted by the Mayor of London. The roadmap builds on the last Smart London Plan in 2013 (updated in 2016) and is a new approach based on collaborative missions. It calls for the city’s 33 local authorities and public services to work and collaborate better with data and digital technologies and helps to realize the seven statutory Mayoral strategies in:
- the environment
- health inequalities
- economic development
- the London Plan
- Smart London – our strengths
London is a hub for CleanTech, GovTech, Digital Health, EdTech, innovations in mobility, as well as the global hub for FinTech, LegalTech, and professional services needed to support innovation. The city is also the European capital of AI, with over 750 suppliers in the city – double the number of Paris and Berlin combined – primed to innovate with the city’s data. It leads the world in research and development (R&D), has produced companies such as Deepmind – a world leader in AI, and Improbable – a world leader in virtual reality technology that raised the largest venture capital investment in UK tech history with a £502m investment led by Softbank.
London is also home to many cultural, academic, and civil society institutions that are thought-leaders in this field. Examples include the Open Data Institute, Nesta, the Catapults, and London’s internationally recognized universities and innovation centers. Promoters such as London & Partners – the Mayor’s official promotion agency – Tech London Advocates, TechUK, and Tech Nation regularly gather London’s founders and funders to network the tech sector in the capital. The capital is also home to Founders for the Future and Europe’s largest tech-for-good community, using digital technologies and data to tackle social challenges.
Data underpins advances in new technologies in AI, cognitive computing, and sensors. London is a global leader in the use of data for public service delivery. The potential to collaborate further presents an exciting opportunity.
The London Datastore is an internationally recognized open data resource with over 700 datasets that help to address urban challenges and improve public services. City Hall uses data itself to inform policy, services, and campaigns. We use housing data to identify sites for small developers, model-new school locations, and identify brownfield sites. We use demography data to predict population growth in opportunity areas and to model demand for school places. We use air quality data to inform public health campaigns and notify children and people at most risk.
Providing open data is only the beginning of the journey. The next step is combining that data in meaningful ways to better understand the way the city works. This will help focus public services and interventions on the people that need them most, such as those most affected by air pollution, fuel poverty, or overheating. Many public services and regulated utilities are developing their own track record in the use of data analytics to aid service design and infrastructure – either by themselves or in partnership with the technology sector.
Data, tech, and the environment
London is a leader in new CleanTech products, such as sensors that create data in new ways to combat the causes and effects of pollution and climate change. For example, London already has access to the largest network of air quality monitors of any city, with world-class modeling and emissions forecasting. The GLA now co-leads the C40 Air Quality Network, which is investing $1m in a challenge to create lower-cost air quality sensing technology to directly measure thousands of more locations in London to complement London’s 100 air quality monitoring stations.
Through other initiatives, like FlexLondon and supporting the rollout of smart meters, the Mayor’s Energy for Londoner’s program is championing the commercialization of new digital technologies and the safe and secure management of the city’s energy data.
We are also managing and combining environment data to accelerate new solutions. For example, the Mayor is developing a ‘focus map’ of several environmental and social datasets to help decision-makers identify where and how to prioritize different kinds of green infrastructure investment across the city.
Data, tech, and transport
Transport for London’s (TfL) track record is a particular strength for London; technology and data underpin everything that TfL does. From controlling the movement of trains to designing future streets using virtual reality, technology drives all aspects of its business.
Vast amounts of data are generated on the Underground and the city’s streets. This data is used to improve services. TfL has an open data portal and a Unified API for developers to create services and products. These generate an estimated annual economic benefit and savings of up to £130m a year. Since 2014, TfL has also played a crucial role in contactless payment.
Half of all Tube and rail pay-as-you-go journeys are now regularly made using contactless payment cards or mobile devices.
Data, tech, and safety
The Met Police are using data and digital technology to provide everyone with the best possible service. They are tackling knife crime by analyzing the time and location of crimes and adjusting patrol patterns to prevent and discourage further attacks. Public interactive dashboards are now well established. The Met Police has also completed the largest deployment in the world of 22,000 body-worn cameras to improve evidence-gathering and accountability. They have deployed mobile technology to frontline officers and launched a sector-leading digital channel for the public to report non-emergency crime and access information and guidance. Responsible and accessible technology is now essential for policing in London.
Data and ‘test-beds
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is London’s newest, smartest, and most sustainable area. The Park’s development is managed by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). Its ambition is to use the Park as a test-bed for new international standards in smart data, sustainability, and community-building, sharing its successes across the city and beyond.
A data platform is being built to publish data on the air quality of green spaces and energy from buildings in the Park. More than £100m has been invested in one of the largest district energy systems in the UK. This includes hard, soft, and data infrastructure through smart meters that give building residents and tenants control and information on their energy use and spending.
A consortium led by TRL won £13.4m in Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) funding for a Smart Mobility Living Lab to test the technology and 5G connectivity infrastructure in the Park and Greenwich over the years ahead. This sits at the heart of a growing cluster of clean technology and mobility innovators centered around the Park. These and other projects, from planning engagement tools to demonstrating drone technologies, support new resource-efficient, low-carbon, connected, and future-ready places.
The Park invested in digital engagement tools to get Londoners’ say on its design of the £1.1bn development of East Bank in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park includes UCL, the BBC, the V&A, and Sadler’s Wells.
Digital Greenwich is developing new standards for smart infrastructure and data with international partners. The Sharing Cities program is trialing the technology in Greenwich such as energy management systems in social housing blocks, energy-saving lighting and controls, and sensors and digital connectivity in lampposts. Autonomous delivery robots have been tested and the technology is now being scaled in other cities abroad. The borough is also trialing a range of air quality sensors and data standards to measure air pollution and gain further insights into the levels and causes of pollution. Together with other initiatives, these projects will help develop business models for the scaling of smart technologies that are proven to work.
Pan-London innovation from town halls
Over the last decade, day-to-day interactions between Londoners and the public sector have gone digital from making online payments to reporting litter and noise to their council. London Ventures – a program led by London Councils and delivered in partnership with EY – is scaling digital solutions to meet public sector challenges in using data to identify vulnerability in children’s services, counter-fraud, automation, and crowdfunding. London’s councils continue to innovate, building partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
The challenge – making London smarter
How can we truly mobilize all our strengths to make London the smartest city in the world? London’s strong record as a smart city masks the challenges that we face when it comes to growing the best ideas and being greater than the sum of our parts.
London’s scale – 33 local authorities, more than 40 NHS Trusts, large regeneration opportunity areas, and major public agencies like TfL and the Met serving a population of nine million citizens – presents a tremendous opportunity to ‘test-bed ideas. London now needs to improve its ability to adapt, scale and amplify the best innovation created by the public or tech sectors across the city.
Smart London Camp
London’s Listening Tour told all that they need to:
- put people first and respect diversity when we design digital services or adopt technology
- lead-in data innovation but build trust and transparency in how public data is used
- be better connected and open to new technologies in the built environment
- strengthen digital leadership in public services and enhance the digital skills and understanding of citizens
- make city-wide collaboration and tech partnerships better to design and share what works for citizens across public and community services
Economic Development Strategy
The Mayor has published his Economic Development Strategy, setting out plans to create a fairer, more inclusive economy that works for all Londoners and businesses. In his Economic Development Strategy, the Mayor sets out his plans to create a fairer, more inclusive economy that works for all Londoners and businesses.
The strategy has three main goals:
- opening up opportunities – everyone should be able to benefit from all our city offers
- growth – ensuring our economy will continue to thrive and is open to business
- innovation – to make London a world leader in innovation, technology and a hub of new ideas and creativity
About the Subject Knowledge Hubs
The London Schools Excellence Fund (LSEF) was set up to improve the quality of teaching in the capital. Between September 2013 and December 2015, City Hall and Department for Education funded over 100 projects that reached every London borough and benefited over 13,000 teachers. Resources were shared further through the LSEF Resource Hub.
Following on from this success, City Hall established a legacy fund to support 17 Subject Knowledge Hubs, running between January 2016 and August 2017. Through this fund, many of the hubs and networks central to the LSEF projects have been able to sustain and embed the good practice they had developed. Teachers from a range of schools have been given the opportunity to work together with the subject and business experts. The fund has helped make excellent teaching in London schools more sustainable, with a strong focus on the continual improvement of teachers’ subject knowledge and pedagogy.
This hub follows on from the successful Connecting Knowledge project, which was led by Rosendale Primary School and funded for two years by the London Schools Excellence Fund.
During the original project, it was found that lesson study had a significant impact on outcomes in Maths for disadvantaged pupils in Lambeth. Borough data now shows that disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their peers in writing. The current Connecting Knowledge Hub aims to address this new inequality and support improved attainment in writing. Hub leads coordinate cycles of lesson study in schools, led by trained Lesson Study Lead Practitioners. These Lead Practitioners were trained under the original Connecting Knowledge project and will in turn train a new cohort of participating teachers to be Lead Practitioners. Expectations for spelling, punctuation, and grammar have increased significantly with the new national curriculum. The lesson study model focuses on the teaching and learning of these areas, whilst developing teachers’ thinking about how pupils learn to write creatively.
London’s Hub strategy
The City Intelligence team works at the center of City Hall. We serve the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Greater London Authority (GLA), and London. The strategy is to develop the technology-driven and people-driven narrative for London
- Provide the evidence base in support of strategy development
- Making London the smartest and most data-driven city on Earth
- Delivering financial and service innovation
We work continually to better understand London, its communities, its economy, and its place in the rapidly changing wider world. We constantly question how we can apply our knowledge and expertise to that wider world.
Making London the smartest and most data-driven city on Earth
In some respects we are already in a fantastic position: the London Datastore is the most recognized city datastore in the world, and we have several innovative city-modeling products in development.
There is still much we can do, though. Guided by the Smart London Board, we are pursuing funded research opportunities and strategic relationships with industry and academia. These new opportunities will aim to turn ‘smart city demonstrators’ into projects which will offer meaningful business and investment models.
The City Data Strategy is central to this. This strategy is a much-needed way to ensure the secure supply and sharing of meaningful ‘city data’. It will also provide data suppliers and value generators with the right set of incentives to make the London data economy move faster still.
Mayor’s Transport Strategy
The Mayor’s Transport Strategy has been published. The document sets out the Mayor’s policies and proposals to reshape transport in London over the next two decades. The London Assembly considered the Transport Strategy after a detailed consultation by Transport for London (TfL), and amendment of the original draft published in 2017.
Transport has the potential to shape London, from the streets Londoners live, work and spend time on, to the Tube, rail and bus services they use every day.
By using the Healthy Streets Approach to prioritize human health and experience in planning the city, the Mayor wants to change London’s transport mix so the city works better for everyone.
Three key themes are at the heart of the strategy.
- Healthy Streets and healthy people – Creating streets and street networks that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use will reduce car dependency and the health problems it creates.
- A good public transport experience – Public transport is the most efficient way for people to travel over distances that are too long to walk or cycle, and a shift from private cars to public transport could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles on London’s streets.
- New homes and jobs – More people than ever want to live and work in London. Planning the city around walking, cycling and public transport use will unlock growth in new areas and ensure that London grows in a way that benefits everyone.
The new draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims to change the way people choose to travel. By 2041, the Mayor aims for 80% of all Londoners’ trips to be made by foot, by cycle, or by public transport. Vehicle emissions can blight streets, harming health and contributing to climate change. London must meet legal air quality limits as soon as possible.
Creating streets and routes that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use will play a major role in reaching this goal. Transport for London (TfL) will deliver on this goal by using the Healthy Streets Approach to guide all of its decision makings.
For those vehicles that remain, it is essential that we reduce emissions as soon as possible and switch them to zero-emission technologies. The Mayor is working to ensure London’s entire transport system is zero-emission by 2050.
From next year, all new double-deck buses will be hybrid, electric, or hydrogen to focus on only buying the greenest, cleanest buses. In central London, all double-deck buses will be hybrid by 2019 and all single-deck buses will emit zero exhaust emissions by 2020. By 2037 at the latest, all 9,200 buses across London will be zero-emission. This mission includes these areas:
- Transport Strategy
- Walking and cycling
- Low Emission Bus Zones
- Zero-emission taxis
- Electric vehicles
- Ultra-Low Emission Zone
- Electric, hybrid and hydrogen buses
- Walking and cycling
The success of London’s transport system in the future relies on the city becoming a place where people choose to walk and cycle. A total of £2.1 billion will be invested to 2021/22 to create Healthy Streets, focusing on increasing walking, cycling, and public transport use, and improving road safety, public spaces, and air quality.
TfL and the London boroughs will be improving street environments to ensure walking is prioritized across London’s streets. More traffic-free areas will be created, starting with the transformation of Oxford Street, changes to Parliament Square, and including trial closures of streets to motor traffic.
Programs like ‘Legible London’, Liveable Neighbourhoods, and Healthy Routes will provide accessible, safe, and attractive walking environments and will make it easier for people to plan journeys on foot.
A new London-wide network of strategic cycling routes will transform the convenience and experience of cycling for all types of trips. TfL’s strategic cycling analysis enables infrastructure improvements to be made where they will be most effective, mapping street changes to current and future cycling demand.
The Mayor aims for 70% of Londoners to live within 400 meters of a high-quality, safe cycle route by 2041.
All of this work will provide better environments for walking and cycling to enable all Londoners to do at least the 20 minutes of active travel they need to stay healthy each day, by 2041.
Side of a bus
The Mayor is spending more than £300 million to transform London’s bus fleet by retrofitting thousands of buses and committing to phase out pure diesel double-deck buses from 2018.
We have announced 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, putting the greenest buses on the capital’s most polluted routes, with the first located in Putney High Street and Brixton Road.
The zones are expected to reduce NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) emissions by 84% and thousands of school children in these areas will benefit from cleaner air.
New taxis licensed after 1 January 2018 will need to be zero emission-capable to help clean up London’s dirty air. The new plans include new ‘zero-emission ranks for drivers who pioneer green technology alongside a network of rapid electric charge points.
This charging network will be integral in supporting the greening of London’s iconic black cab fleet, with many charging points dedicated exclusively to their use by the end of 2018. TfL aims that all taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) will be zero emission-capable by 2033.
New technology is changing the way many Londoners access taxis and PHVs, and the Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan also addresses how regulation can be used to ensure safety standards are applied across the taxi and private hire markets. We are investing £18 million into a new scheme that will make it easier to own an electric vehicle in the capital.
Rapid charging points that will power vehicles in nearly 30 minutes will be installed across London. Compare this to the three to four hours when using a standard unit.
The initial plan is to see 75 rapid charging points in the ground by the end of 2017, with the network growing to 150 by the end of 2018 and 300 fully functioning by 2020.
Additionally, there will soon be 1500 new standard electric vehicle charging points installed across London. The £4.5 million investment, across 25 boroughs, will make electric vehicles an easier and more practical option for Londoners.
Ultra-Low Emission Zone
The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) launched on 8 April 2019, approximately 17 months earlier than planned. The ULEZ will supersede the T-Charge and create stricter emissions standards for diesel vehicles, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Those that do not comply will face a charge.
Over 2,600 diesel-electric hybrid buses currently run through the capital, making up 30% of our bus fleet. All of these buses are quieter, more fuel-efficient, and cleaner than standard diesel buses, reducing emissions by between 30-40%.
We want London to be a world leader in hydrogen and fuel cell activity. Hydrogen is a universal fuel that will play a major role in our clean, sustainable energy future. Together with fuel cells, hydrogen will increasingly provide us all with clean and secure energy to power vehicles.
We have the potential for carbon-neutral and emission-free energy if the hydrogen itself is produced from a carbon-neutral source such as London’s waste, solar, or wind power.
Hydrogen fuel is a great way to power public and private transport in London. The only emission is water vapor which means that no carbon dioxide or other air pollutants are released into the air.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles have a range similar to conventional diesel vehicles achieving 350-400 miles on a single tank of fuel, and they can be refueled within 3-5 minutes.