Mayor appoints Theo Blackwell as London’s first chief digital officer
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Theo Blackwell, London's first ever chief digital officer (CDO)

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today (25 August) appointed Theo Blackwell as the capital’s first ever chief digital officer (CDO).

Blackwell will:

  • Provide strategic leadership on the digital transformation agenda for London’s public services, across the GLA group and the wider public sector.
  • Convene on behalf of the Mayor, across London local government, to build support for and take-up of innovative, technology and data-led approaches to service delivery and public engagement.
  • Develop and promote partnership between the public, private and community sectors to enable and support the development of new public service oriented technology and innovation.

Through doing the above, Blackwell will play a key role in realising the Mayor’s ambition to make London the world’s smartest city, ensuring that the capital’s status as a global tech hub helps transform the way public services are designed and delivered, making them more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners. The appointment fulfils a key manifesto commitment made by the mayor.

He joins the mayor’s team following work at GovTech accelerator Public Group, advising start-ups on the growing market in local public services, and was previously head of policy & 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. In his role as cabinet member for finance, technology and growth at Camden Council, Blackwell has established Camden as London’s leading digital borough through its use of public data – and this year it received national recognition as Digital Leaders’ ‘Council of the year’.

Blackwell also sits on the Advisory Board of Digital Leaders and is a director of Camden Town Unlimited, a Business Improvement District.

Blackwell will work closely with the Mayor’s 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.

Blackwell 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.

The mayor of London, Sadiq 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."

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of techUK, said: “techUK has long argued that London needed a Chief Digital Officer to ensure that London makes the best possible use of new digital technologies. The appointment of Theo Blackwell is good news for Londoners. The smart use of new digital technologies can improve the lives of people living in or visiting London. Theo Blackwell brings a deep understanding of both the opportunities ahead and the challenges of implementing new digital technologies to address the city’s most pressing problems. This appointment is an important step forward to London being at the forefront of tech innovation to create smart places and communities where citizens want to live, work and thrive.”


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