Setting out a digital vision for London
At a time when we are seeing unprecedented levels of political devolution, local governments and city councils are being empowered to drive their own digital transformation and provide public services that today’s citizens actually need and want. And, with the next London mayor set to be decided by the capital’s population in May, this is the first time that technology has been central to the candidates’ electoral campaigns. Here, I explore why now is the opportune moment to set out a digital vision for London, as well as the role that IT services companies must play in this rapidly changing environment.
Empowering London with “Digital Devolution”
National governments are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver uniform public services across different geographies, towns and cities. As a result, they are seeking to devolve power and decision-making to a local level, giving city councils the power to deliver nimbler, more efficient and responsive public services to their citizens.
At the same time, public services are starting to follow in the footsteps of private sector industries that already have digital innovation at the core. For instance, mobile technology has completely overhauled the way retail and financial services organisations engage with their customers. More than a third of global online payments are now being made with a mobile device and this year, banking customers will check their current accounts on their smartphones and tablets 895m times – surpassing the 705m expected branch visits. Consumers are coming to expect the same level of convenience and user experience in the public sector, and are therefore increasingly demanding digitally-led public services. Could we soon be using our smartphones to tap in and out of public transport systems for instance, or book GP and hospital appointments via apps?
To support these increasingly digital services, city councils are pouring major investment into broadband connectivity. The UK Government for example, made up to £150 million available to support UK cities, including London, in their digital infrastructure development as part of its “Super Connected Cities” programme.
What role must IT services organisations now play?
These digital advancements are about to make it easier to connect all the things we do in London; from travelling, working and socialising, to visiting tourist attractions and discovering new experiences. But this won’t happen overnight without support from the IT organisations who are providing the backbone of these services behind the scenes. At Atos, we’ve played a fundamental role in the public sector for a number of years and have a great deal of experience in delivering and maintaining global IT platforms, such as for the International Olympic Committee. If we’re to make our digital vision for London a success, IT services providers must work together with public organisations to help shape the conversations around what citizens need and how these innovative new services can be delivered as a result.
Look out for my next post where I’ll be discussing some of the possibilities of a digital London and what needs to be addressed to help us deliver connected and seamless experiences across the capital.