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3/6/2013
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London Aims To Be World's 'Smartest' City

British capital studies more integrated approaches to its systems and more support for tech entrepreneurship.

The colorful mayor of London, Conservative Boris Johnson, says it's time the U.K.'s capital got smart.

Specifically, he wants to use technological innovation to make the city a better place to live, work and invest in. "London has been at the forefront of technological wizardry for generations, but in a rapidly changing world we will need to work harder than ever to stay ahead of the game," he said in the official announcement of the plan.

According to Johnson and his team, "smart" refers to how the capital as a whole functions as a result of the complex interplay between its systems, from local labor and financial markets to trade networks of local firms, local government, education, healthcare, transportation and utilities. Their vision of "smart London" is a city where "the linkages between these different systems are understood, where the value from integrating these different systems is capitalized upon, and where London as a whole works more efficiently as a result."

[ Which city is smarter: London or Glasgow? Read about Glasgow's 'smart city' initiative at Glasgow: U.K.'s First 'Smart City'. ]

"We must harness the huge potential that new technology offers us," Johnson said. "And by drawing on the expertise of some of the brightest minds around, we can make our great city an even smarter one, too."

To this end, Johnson has pulled together a special board of academics, entrepreneurs, business leaders and members of the U.K.'s tech business press. The team will be led by David Gann, head of innovation and entrepreneurship at the business school of one of London's foremost science and technology Universities, Imperial College.

Gann and his team will explore how London can best invest in technology and data to ensure that it remains one of the world's most efficient and livable cities. Gann said, "We will harness London's knowledge base -- from London's universities to its innovative entrepreneurs, from open to big data, from libraries to museums -- in new ways, using new technology to create jobs and growth for the capital, and an even better London experience."

Joanna Shields, chief executive of the Tech City Investment Organization and U.K. business ambassador for digital industries, added, "Together, we will make further progress in establishing London as Europe's digital capital, positively shaping the movement of entrepreneurship and innovation that is growing not just in the city, but around the U.K."

The board also includes Christophe Williams, founder and MD of a startup called Naked Energy; Chris Thorpe, technologist and business leader; Martin Curley, director of Intel Labs Europe; Paul Maher, CEO of the Infrastructure & Cities LMV and North West Europe Smart Grid divisions of Siemens; and Mike Butcher, editor of IT news website TechCrunch Europe.

The plan is expected to support SMBs as a key way to increase investment in London as well as help clarify and shape market opportunities from London's emergence as a smart city. It also promises to allow users to seize marketing opportunities gained from new technological innovation, as well as help position London globally as a world-leading smart city.

Johnson said he is delighted to welcome a fantastic lineup of experts to help spur the kind of innovation and entrepreneurship that will "secure London's future as the best big city on Earth."

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party and a campaigner for sensible information policy, will present the keynote address at Black Hat Europe 2013. Black Hat Europe will take place March 12-15 at The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam.

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