Mayor makes new guidelines for London’s use of smart city tech

The charter sets four principles for implementing technology in London: openness; respect for diversity; trustworthiness with people’s data; and sustainability

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan has published a new Emerging Technology Charter outlining guidelines for the trialling and deployment of new data-enabled smart city technology including face biometrics.

The mayor said he hoped the new charter would encourage local authorities, public services and technology companies to improve how they implement technology in the capital.

The charter, which is now in its fourth iteration, aims to lay out a clear pathway for how a range of future smart city technologies can be used ethically by Londoners and developers. Technologies highlighted include driverless cars, facial recognition software, drones, sensor networks, robotics, mobility services, augmented/virtual reality and automated decision-making systems.

The mayor said the new version of the charter was created to help aid recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on London. Khan said: “My new Emerging Tech Charter will play a significant part in that recovery, making sure both Londoners and tech businesses are using data efficiently to get the most out of technological innovation.”

While the charter is voluntary for companies and individuals to sign up to, Khan said he would “encourage” public services, elected representatives, people in the tech industry and ‘interested Londoners’ to adopt it.

The charter will also be shared with the Global Observatory on Urban Artificial Intelligence, an initiative launched by London, Barcelona and Amsterdam in June 2021 that aims to monitor AI deployment trends and promote its ethical use.

The new digital infrastructure outlined by the charter aims to make internet speeds faster, provide vast amounts of real-time data and support a new generation of services and applications including biometric data processing and facial recognition technology.

Theo Blackwell, the chief digital officer for London, said: ““We want to foster a trustworthy environment for innovation to flourish, and to do so responsibly. When a new technology is deployed it’s not easy for Londoners to find out about how privacy risks have been identified and managed.”

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