London Connects is a pan London initiative, whose founding partners are the GLA and the ALG, with support from major government departments such as the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) and the Office OF E-envoy. The initiative embodies a project whose aim is to enable the National Government's programme relating to the full delivery of Electronic Government services by 2005, to be implemented across London whilst providing best value to its citizens, businesses and many other key agencies
The initiative was originally lead by three London Boroughs: Camden, Lewisham and Newham together with, the London Branch of SocITM held a conference on 11 th October 2000 which launched it. A further Conference attended by over 300 delegates from boroughs & other public sector organisations was held on 1 st March 2001.
Borough leaders and other key groups and agencies in London were invited to sign up to the initiative via an Agreement to Co-operate document. First signatories were the Mayor of London and the Government Office for London.
Work has been taken forward by an organising committee comprising the boroughs, London Branch of SocITM, GLA (Association Of London Government), ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister), Government Office for London, Department of the e-Envoy, IdeA (Improvement and Development Agency) which has recently been joined by representatives from the NHS (National Health Service), LVSC (London Voluntary Service Council), Metropolitan Police, London Fire and Emergency Authority, London Libraries Development Agency, London Grid for Learning.
Over the next years the revolution in communication technology will have an enormous impact on the businesses and other sectors involved in delivering services across London. This will impact on all citizens in the capital. Currently 30%-40% of Londoners have access to the Internet in their daily lives, and over the next years this percentage is set to increase rapidly. New channels of communication are currently being developed to provide an easy and immediate interface for citizens to electronic services. This means that many of the poorer sectors of the capital and others at risk of exclusion, will have the opportunity to become consumers of electronic services. These services will be provided in order to provide: Information, training, consultation, advice and guidance as well as communication possibilities.
This is a top issue for Local Authorities and all other London wide public bodies. Across London all local authorities are already involved in developments in this area through websites. Citizens will come to expect and rely on electronic delivery of information and services, not only from commercial sources, but increasingly to access the valuable, free and unbiased services and information that only local authorities can supply. Further there is a big danger that if citizens are not able to become more involved in local democratic processes through the use of communication technologies, the trend towards local non-participation will grow.
All London now has a major opportunity: With the advent of a Mayor for London as a lead figure to engage in promoting the capital, the boroughs have a clear rationale for developing strategies and channelling resources towards co-operative working in order to spread good practice. Many public services across the capital are replicated 33 times - thus increasing cost and affecting value for money for citizens. With joint consultation and tendering programmes costs can be reduced and services better targeted and improved. Information technology would act as a key enabler to achieve this.
All local authorities in London have the opportunity, through the London Connects initiative, to engage in the knowledge revolution in order to enhance service provision and democratic participation of citizens, as well as to grasp the opportunity to become the city of the new knowledge economy providing jobs, skills and training based on these developments. Opportunities for London include:
Without an effective pan-London strategy to harness and deliver electronic government, the risks are:
The aim of the London Connects initiative is to lead the development of electronic public services across London. In doing so it will enable the National Government's programme relating to the full delivery of Electronic Government services by 2005, to be implemented across London whilst providing best value to its citizens, businesses and many other key agencies.