Make London the world’s leading ‘smart city’, says Mayor Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has revealed his desire to make the capital the world’s leading ‘smart city’, using evolving digital technology to improve urban processes including waste and resource management.

Speaking yesterday (12 June) at London Tech Week, a technology festival running until Friday, the Mayor held up the concept of the ‘smart city’ as the key to solving many of the biggest economic, social and environmental challenges faced by governments.

Make London the world’s leading ‘smart city’, says Mayor Sadiq KhanThe ‘smart city’ – the idea of using data from citizens, sensors and digital technology to make urban services and processes run more efficiently could have a profound effect on the ways that waste and resources are handled throughout the supply and consumption chain, as Resource found out earlier this year.

Technology consultancy Navigant Research predicted last year that the global market for smart waste collection technologies will grow from $57.6 million (£45 million) in 2016 to over $223.6 million (£178 million) in 2025.

Possible uses for smart technology in the waste industry include the application of sensors in bins to tell waste management companies and local authorities when bins need emptying to make collections more efficient and streamlined. This kind of technology is already employed by Big Belly Solar bins, which alert collection crews when bins are 85 per cent full and have self-contained, solar powered compactors to make more space.

More granular data, meanwhile, could help companies in the waste chain know what kind of materials are being disposed of and where, enabling targeted communications and services depending on demand.

All of these are made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT) – the concept of devices talking to each other, and us, to spread data and increase their functionality.

Speaking yesterday, Khan expressed his desire for London to become the world’s leading ‘smart city’, with a report by the IESE Centre for Globalisation and Strategy already putting it in second place after New York.

Khan said: “As Mayor of this great city – the best city in the world – it fills me with pride to see our tech sector thriving. New technologies are having an enormous impact on our way of life - reshaping our societies, our economies and our culture.

 “The potential for cutting-edge technology to tackle a host of social, economic and environmental challenges is immeasurable.  From air pollution and climate change to housing and transport, new technologies and data science will be at the heart of the long-term solutions to urban challenges.”

As part of this drive, Khan announced the launch of a £1.6-million clean tech incubator, Better Futures, which will help 100 London-based small and medium-sized businesses deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products that can help tackle the causes and effects of climate change.

The Mayor also officially opened Plexal, a ‘mini-city’ dedicated to technology innovation based at Here East business park in Stratford that will support 800 technology start-ups and global corporations.

Away from London, but more focused towards the environmental advantages of the ‘smart cities’ concept, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), a trade organisation representing the environmental technologies and services sector, has launched a new cross-sector, free-to-access smart cities platform,, that aims to bring together businesses and local governments employing smart technologies to make cities greener, cleaner and more sustainable.

The platform allows users to search a database of case studies giving examples smart technologies being used to improve environmental performance in cities. The site allows searches to be based on the challenge being faced (e.g. waste management, air quality, smart city strategy, open data platform), location and the stage of development at which the solution is currently at.

More information about how the digital revolution could have a profound effect on resource management can be found in Resource’s recent in-depth look at the smart city and it’s potential.

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