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Politicians got their first look at a plan to harness technology for made-in-London solutions to everyday problems at a committee meeting Monday night.

The goal is a “smart city” that uses data, technology and innovative ideas to improve the lives of Londoners and give the city an edge on a provincial or national stage.

City staff say the end results are more convenient, effective and less expensive services, and a more inclusive and accessible city.

So, what’s the plan to get there?

It’s more about a culture shift than a specific technology London should adopt, city planner John Fleming told council, sitting as the strategic priorities and policy committee.

“Our approach is not to provide a whole list of cool technological projects ... but about setting the environment and facilitating the development of smart city initiatives by the private sector,” he said.

Some examples of smart city initiatives already underway in London:

  • Linking the city’s register of construction projects with digital mapping application Waze, so drivers are alerted to construction zones before they reach them.
  • Building an open data portal to share data with Londoners.
  • 3-D modelling to illustrate civic spaces, development proposals and urban landscapes.

The staff report to politicians is even more blunt: “Technology, for technology sake, is not the answer. The ‘cool factor’ should not be the focus.”

Instead, London needs to develop infrastructure, including open data from public and private partners, and brand itself as a “smart city.”

And that’s going to take some dedicated work at city hall, staff say. They’ve pitched the idea of a smart cities implementation office.

“This work doesn’t happen effectively off the corner of desks,” Fleming said.

City politicians unanimously approved the draft strategy, which will be circulated to get feedback before it’s finalized and an implementation plan brought forward in the next multi-year budget.

Coun. Michael van Holst called the smart cities plan “exciting,” asking staff to investigate what’s been done elsewhere to “save us from reinventing the wheel.”

“It’s nice to see what is happening in other places ... that can spark our own types of innovations.”

Fleming emphasized the role of private-sector partners. The draft strategy was prepared not just by city staff but with help from London Hydro, the London Economic Development Corp. and a network of education and health care institutions in the city.

And those partnerships will be crucial to achieving London’s smart city goals, Coun. Stephen Turner said.

“I think the key to a lot of this is being able to get not just municipal data sets, but (link with) collaborative partners and their data sets,” he said.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Megan Stacey

Quelle/Source: The London Free Press, 15.10.2018

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