The Mayor of London's commitment to Digital is good news for us all

The search for London's first Chief Digital Officer shows sport in London is on the right path

The Mayor of London's commitment to Digital is good news for us all

by Alex Zurita

Alex Zurita, London Sport Specialist Advisor - Technology for Participation, welcomes the Mayor of London's commitment to digital and technology.

Earlier this month, City AM reported that the Mayor of London had formally begun a process to identify the capital’s first ever Chief Digital Officer, bringing London in-line with cities like New York who have long-valued senior policy oversight for the digital age and delivering on a commitment set out in his electoral manifesto last year.

In taking this step, the Mayor is not only boosting City Hall’s expertise around the digital sector, but cementing the position of technology, data and digital as a cornerstone of the future prosperity of London. That this is the case should be of no surprise. Tech Nation 2017, Tech City UK's annual ‘state of the industry’ report outlines that between 2012 and 2016, London attracted £13.8bn of digital tech investment, more than Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam combined, while 2015 digital turnover in the capital is estimated at an astonishing £56bn. Across London, a new tech company is founded on average once an hour.

If it’s natural that the policy world is seeking clear leadership for London’s digital future, it should be equally so for physical activity and sport.

Our sector – a sector whose primary consideration is the value contributed to people’s lives through being active – does not live in a bubble. We do not operate in isolation, and we don’t work with a population unaffected by the rise of the digital world. If digital is an opportunity for Finance, Retail, Health or Leisure, it is an opportunity for sport. To believe that we can ignore its increasing impact on the world would be a clear mistake. That, above all, is why London Sport is so committed to enabling physical activity and sport to harness the innovation common across the digital sector.

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In February 2016, alongside the then Mayor of London, we outlined our ambitions to make London the SportTech capital of the world. Then, last November, we were excited to outline plans for a new SportTech incubator, to be housed in the House of Sport, which will open its doors later this year. In the coming weeks, we look forward to announcing details of a forthcoming major event looking exploring the progress sport is already making in adapting to the digital world – and highlighting the areas where more support is needed.

Digital isn’t the answer to everything. Alone, it won’t solve all the issues and barriers that prevent people across London from enjoying the benefits – physical, mental, social – of being physically active. As a part of a solution, though, it has never played a more important role; a role that London Sport will continue to support and advocate for throughout the capital.