The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has appointed Theo Blackwell as the capital’s first ever Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
As London’s first CDO, Theo will play a leading role in realising the Mayor’s ambition to make London the world’s smartest city, ensuring that the capital’s status as a global tech hub helps transform the way public services are designed and delivered, making them more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners.
He joins the Mayor’s team following work at GovTech accelerator Public Group, advising start-ups on the growing market in local public services, and was previously Head of Policy & Public Affairs for the video games industry’s trade body, Ukie – where he ran a ‘Next Gen Skills’ campaign to get coding back on the curriculum.
Theo brings more than 20 years of experience in technology and digital transformation in both the public and private sector. In his role as cabinet member for finance, technology and growth at Camden Council, the Mayor says Theo has established Camden as a leading digital borough through its use of public data. Earlier in 2017 they received national recognition as Digital Leaders ‘Council of the year’.
Theo also sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Leaders and is a director of Camden Town Unlimited, a Business Improvement District which pioneered new start-up incubation in ‘meanwhile’ space.
Theo will work closely with the Mayor’s Smart London Board to develop a new Smart London Plan, and will play a central role in building collaboration across London’s boroughs, and businesses, to drive the digital transformation of public services, as well as supporting the spread of innovation through common technology standards and better data-sharing.
Theo will also promote manifesto ambitions around pan-London collaboration on connectivity, digital inclusion, cyber-security and open data. He will also focus on scoping work for the London Office for Technology & Innovation that was announced by the Mayor at London Tech Week.
London already has more than 47,000 digital technology companies, employing approximately 240,000 people. It is forecast that the number of tech companies will increase by a third and a further 44,500 jobs will have been created by 2026.
The capital is also pushing ahead with implementing new technologies, for example on ticketing and contactless on the transport network, while the London Datastore is an open resource with vast amounts of data about all areas of the city. Tech start-ups have used this open data to create innovative new apps.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am determined to make London the world’s leading ‘smart city’ with digital technology and data at the heart of making our capital a better place to live, work and visit. We already lead in digital technology, data science and innovation and I want us to make full use of this in transforming our public services for Londoners and the millions of visitors to our great city”.
Theo Blackwell said: “The new Chief Digital Officer post is an amazing opportunity to make our capital even more open to innovation, support jobs and investment and make our public services more effective. The pace of change over the next decade requires public services to develop a stronger relationship with the tech sector. Our purpose is to fully harness London’s world-class potential to make our public services faster and more reliable at doing things we expect online, but also adaptable enough to overcome the capital’s most complex challenges.”