New Mayors: who cares? Those selling innovation in city services should

In less than one month there will be a new Mayor in the driving seat of London government.

All change: The London mayoral elections are only a month away, writes Roudie Shafie
All change: The London mayoral elections are only a month away, writes Roudie Shafie
London is not exactly a bellwether for UK politics and with the EU referendum hot on its heels it would be easy to park the election as provincial. 

But the outcome simply cannot be ignored. 

For starters, the Mayor of London is the only politician in the UK directly elected by over a million people. 

That's a powerful mandate understood in Whitehall. Over his two terms, Boris Johnson not only secured more powers and funding for London, especially around planning and infrastructure, he also set the agenda nationally for fiscal devolution (London Finance Commission) and healthy cities (London Health Commission). 

He championed groundbreaking ideas like an International Dementia Research Institute, securing an additional £150million investment from the Treasury.

For innovators interested in city services it gets really interesting after 5 May. 

Air pollution levels are breaching safe markers and the new Mayor will have £150m to spend on clean energy projects. 

On SMART cities the ambition is to take the budget from 25m Euros to 500m Euros to invest in more partnerships to develop a better city modelling platform. 

In economic development, the new Mayor may or may not choose to spearhead the ambition of a £10bn "Mega Fund" for med-tech start-ups and scale-ups in the City. 

These are just a few examples of big decisions that will take place and ultimately shape the business landscape.

What will the next Mayor do with that other valuable commodity: data. 

Making City data openly available, especially the wealthy pool of TfL transport data, has changed the lives of every Londoner and visitor who has used CityMapper. 

City Hall led this quiet revolution in open data and now needs to take it to the next level. 

The new Mayor will think about how the Metropolitan Police Service and emergency services such as the London Fire Brigade are further equipped with advanced data capture and analysis tools using existing equipment like smart phones. 

He will want his new chief digital officer - both leading candidates have pledged to have one - ahead of the curve on how smart phone data is captured, stored and put to use for city living. 

London has lots of data, it also had lots of big data analysts, big data companies - big and small, big data institutes, think tanks and even a catapult.

What the new Mayor can bring on 6 May is trust. 

Trust above all is the brave new frontier in data, it's the Rubicon the Mayor must cross if he wants to harness the power of big data in city services.

Roudie Shafie is a senior consultant at Hume Brophy and a former advisor to Boris Johnson

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