Pandemic shows digital and innovation is ‘more important than ever’, say London boroughs


Local government’s capacity to adopt technology and innovate will prove “more important than ever” in the aftermath of Covid-19, London Councils has declared.

Marking the first anniversary of the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI), the cross-party group highlights the need for faster adoption of digital and data to support the capital’s post-pandemic recovery.

LOTI was launched in 2019 as a collaboration between the London boroughs, with a mission of bringing the best of digital, data and innovation to benefit London residents, communities and businesses. Hosted by London Councils, LOTI is also supported by the Mayor of London as part of his commitment to the digital transformation of public services across the capital.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, boroughs worked swiftly to support their residents – with LOTI helping councils identify the digital tools and processes they can use to adapt quickly to an array of new challenges.

For example, LOTI supported boroughs to use data to understand which of their residents may be most in need as a result of Covid-19. The LOTI team also identified barriers to and solutions for cross-organisational working, produced a guide to holding online council meetings, and compiled recommendations for improving the government’s Devices for Children laptop provision scheme.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney and London Councils’ Digital Champion, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on boroughs – but this has also made it clear that technology and innovation in public services are more important than ever.

“London local government made excellent use of digital tools to adapt speedily to the difficult new circumstances we found ourselves in, with LOTI helping to facilitate this work, breakdown silos, and co-ordinate learning between the boroughs.

“While there remain massive challenges ahead, boroughs and our small but incredible LOTI team are determined to continue improving our use of digital resources for the benefit of our residents. Since it was established last summer, LOTI has been integral to pushing forward this agenda. I have no doubt its role will become even more crucial in the months and years to come.”

Theo Blackwell MBE, London’s Chief Digital Officer, said: “LOTI is making it easier for London and its 33 local authorities to harness the power of tech and data to improve Londoners’ lives.

“By acting as an incubator for the adoption of new ideas and working closely with councils, City Hall and Transport for London, it has been able to tackle complex city-wide problems during the pandemic. I have no doubt that in the years to come LOTI will continue to drive city-wide change with solutions designed to meet Londoners’ needs.”

LOTI dedicated much of its first year to addressing barriers to using data, improving technology procurement and building boroughs’ digital skills. This work will continue alongside a substantial programme to help boroughs use digital and data to support their communities recover from the pandemic.