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Blackwell named London’s first chief digital officer

Theo Blackwell has been appointed as the City of London’s first ever chief digital officer (CDO).

As London’s first CDO, Blackwell will play a leading role in realising the mayor’s ambition to make London the world’s smartest city.

He joins the mayor’s team following work at GovTech accelerator Public Group, advising start-ups on the growing market in local public services.

He was also previously head of policy and 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.  

Blackwell brings more than 20 years of experience in technology and digital transformation in both the public and private sector.

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.  

“I am delighted to appoint Theo Blackwell as London’s first chief digital officer, and I know he will use his experience working in the technology sector and developing public services to improve the lives of all Londoners.”

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.”

He will now work closely with the  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 racing ahead with new technologies, using it for 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, and tech start-ups have used this open data to create innovative new apps.