Sadiq Khan embarks on hunt for London’s first chief digital officer

Khan begins search for a CDO

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a search for the city’s first chief digital officer, a role with a £106,952 annual salary and a remit to make the capital the world’s leading smart city.

In a job description posted today (3 May), the mayor’s office outlined a role that would ‘encourage collaboration and adoption of common standards around data and service transformation’ by working with Greater London Authority officials, the Smart London Board, local authorities, and the tech sector itself.

Khan is after someone who will predict the impact of new, disruptive and transformative technologies and make sure stakeholders respond to these quickly while supporting the mayor’s digital inclusion and cyber-security policies.

The hiring board are seeking a senior candidate from either government or the tech world, who must have ‘the communication and diplomatic skills to convene and influence a wide range of external stakeholders’.

Underpinning the recruitment hunt is Khan’s dedication to building a world-leading smart city by putting digital innovation at its heart. He said: “I want to take the digital transformation of our public services to the next level, so we can improve the ways in which we plan and deliver public services for Londoners.”

The mayor continues to push the city’s digital agenda and potential with annual events such as London Technology Week (shortened for 2017 to London Tech Week) and a new scheme to get more Londoners into digital and creative careers. While not a parliamentary appointment, the hire slots into the government’s digital strategy – the now-dissolved cabinet’s brief to raise the UK’s game on the tech world stage.

Jon Davie, chief executive of Zone and chair of the London Council for Bima, took issue with the digital strategy's lack of creative focus. However he believes the mayoral team's new hire is "really encouraging".

"Having a digital expert sitting at the top table can only be a good thing, and reading through the job description, it’s clear that the role isn’t just to act as a cheerleader for the digital industries – although as a sector, we employ more than 250,000 people across the capital," he said.

“What’s really exciting is that the role is about embracing technology to improve policy, decision making and public services. The UK is a world leader in developing ‘Government as a platform’, and the work of the Government Digital Service is rightly acclaimed for the way that they put users and user needs at the heart of a digital strategy.

“Technology is disrupting the status quo in every business and every sector – local government is no exception. So it’s fantastic to see Sadiq Khan acknowledge the need to bring in a senior digital leader. I fully support the appointment, and look forward to working with the successful candidate in the years to come."

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