Sadiq Khan appoints Camden councillor as London’s first chief digital officer
Theo Blackwell joins Greater London Authority with 20 years’ experience working in technology
London mayor Sadiq Khan has appointed the capital’s first chief digital officer (CDO), fulfilling a manifesto commitment made when he ran for office in 2015.
The new CDO, Theo Blackwell, joins the mayor’s office after a 20-year career in technology and will take the lead on work to digitally transform public services and turn London into “the world’s smartest city”.
Blackwell is currently cabinet member for finance, technology and growth at Camden Council, and is also a policy fellow for govtech accelerator Public Group, where he advised start-ups on the local public services.
He has also worked as head of policy and public affairs for the video games industry’s trade body Ukie, where he campaigned to get coding back on the school curriculum.
Commenting on his appointment, Blackwell said the post was an “amazing opportunity to make our capital even more open to innovation, support jobs and investment and make our public services more effective.”
He added: “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.”
London has more than 47,000 digital technology companies, which employ around 240,000 people.
The number of tech companies in the capital is forecast to grow by a third by 2026, according to the Greater London Authority.
Khan welcomed Blackwell to the role and said his experience working in the technology sector and developing public services would help him “improve the lives of all Londoners”.
He also repeated his determination to make London the world’s leading smart city.
“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,” he said.
The CDO is tasked with leading on digital transformation for London’s public services; encouraging adoption of technology and data-led approaches to service delivery and public engagement; and promoting partnerships between the public, private and community sectors.
Blackwell will also work closely with the Smart London Board, which advises the mayor on the implementation of digital technology and investment in data infrastructure.
He will also be asked to help promote collaboration between London’s boroughs on key pan-London issues, such as connectivity, cyber-security and open data, and will scope work for the new London Office for Technology and Innovation.
It was initially expected that a CDO would be appointed in the summer of 2016, but the role was not advertised until May this year, at a salary of just under £107,000.
In June this year, Blackwell helped Camden scoop the digital council of the year award at the Digital Leaders award for its use of public data.
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