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An artist's impression of a pedestrianised Oxford Street
An artist's impression of a pedestrianised Oxford Street | © TfL
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The Mayor is Asking Londoners to Help Design a Smarter City

Picture of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor
Updated: 22 March 2018
As children play in the yard below, an air quality sensor silently monitors the level of toxicity above an inner-city London playground.

One of thousands of sensors deployed across the city to update Londoners about their local air quality in real-time, the monitor is part of a larger project known as the Smart London Plan – a citywide initiative that combines emerging technologies with the vast amount of data generated daily to make London a better, more liveable place for its citizens.

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An artist’s impression of a pedestrianised, smart London | © TfL

An ongoing project from the Mayor’s Office and the capital’s first Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, Smart London projects include everything from free public Wifi installations in over 80 public buildings, to body-worn video cameras which allow the Metropolitan Police to gather evidence in real time and reassure the public about police accountability.

Ahead of the Plan’s official launch at London Tech Week this June, the Mayor’s office has this month launched a public ‘listening exercise’ asking Londoners and the city’s tech community to help ensure that project is designed around Londoners’ needs.

‘The Smart London Plan provides a fantastic opportunity to realise the ambition and roadmap for the ways data, digital and design can be united to help London become an even better place to live, work and play. There is no better way to start crafting London’s Smart Story, than by crowdsourcing the best and the brightest ideas from the broader community,’ said Jen Hawes-Hewitt, a global cities consulting lead at Accenture and member of the Smart London Board.

‘We want to hear from everyone working in tech or who uses tech on what measures they think we should take to help manage London’s growth and deliver better public services,’ added Theo Blackwell.

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An artist’s impression of a pedestrianised Oxford Street | © TfL

The call for citizens’ opinions – which can be submitted online here – comes as Transport for London (TfL) looks to advance its smart city plan by making a bid for government funding to tackle ‘not-spots’ – areas of poor internet provision – to provide better digital connectivity for Londoners.

If successful, the funding, which is being made available by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, would be used to extend already-planned full fibre-optic connectivity on the underground network to public buildings near tube stations, improve connectivity and end remaining not-spots in central London.

‘As an urban designer my job is to design the cities of tomorrow,’ said Ekaterina Lichtenstein, director of urban insights at Project Imagine and member of the Smart London Board. ‘The data a city generates provides valuable input into my work, as it helps me design closer to the people who live, work and study in them. I look forward to seeing how the Smart London Plan incorporates these and other aspects of tech and data, and harnesses their potential to positively impact people’s lives.’

In addition to the Smart London plan, other government schemes to improve the city’s liveability include a plan to pedestrianise Oxford Circus, one of London’s busiest shopping streets.