Connected London Blog

Read below for weekly updates from the Connected London team to learn about the projects and stakeholders they work with to improve digital connectivity across London.

08 November 2019

On Monday, the team and Theo Blackwell met with London Council and leads from London’s sub-regional partnerships to continue conversations in developing digital connectivity roles announced by the Mayor, ensuring these roles are needs-specific and complementary to existing resources whilst learning from best practice and guidance developed through similar existing roles across London.

On Wednesday, the team went to Brent Civic Centre for a meeting with West London Alliance and its boroughs to hear updates about borough SIP-funded projects and requested information/data in line with the deadlines of the TfL Telecommunications Commercialisation Project (TCP).

On Friday, the team and colleagues in the GIS team met with a handful of boroughs to develop proposals to improve the Connected London Map with additional functionality. Proposals include functionality to download map data in a readily useable format for reports and the ability to scroll between historic datasets to better understand improvements in connectivity across London.

Also this week:

  • Spoke to providers and boroughs regarding the Mayor’s £10m fibre announcement and next steps.
  • Met with GLA’s finance team to discuss requirements for reallocating SIF funding to the Connected London team budget.
  • Discussed arrangements for hosting some of Hackney council’s apprentices in return for the work experience they provided for our Connected London apprentice.
  • Crunched the latest national Gigabit Vouchers data shared by DCMS.

19 July 2019

The Connected London team has been progressing projects and meeting with various stakeholders. Throughout the week the team have been speaking with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) regarding the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund and considering site list eligibility.

Updates were required for the Smarter London Together Tracker, and the Quarterly programme and project reporting required by our Governance team. 

The team discussed connectivity needs with a residential property developer and worked to provide some key fibre contacts. 

A network operator got in touch regarding a property where the GLA is a freeholder, and the team identified ways forward. 

On Monday the team attended a forum with industry, government and Ofcom to discuss recommendations for improving information for SMEs and agreeing that more guidance needs to be provided to ensure that businesses in the capital and beyond have the skills and information needed to improve their efficiencies and drive business growth about through fibre, mobile and the tools that use them. 

On Tuesday the team headed to Havering who were hosting the first of the fifth round of regional workshops for North/East London boroughs. These workshops are held at borough offices/town halls with a view that hosting is rotated for each round. Please read our meeting notes which can be found in our newsletters. The ambition of the workshops is to collaborate work streams, coordinate projects and sharing best practice and guidance with boroughs to transform London’s digital landscape.

On Thursday the team made their way to Manchester to meet with colleagues from Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Glasgow, and West Midlands Combined Authority to discuss lessons learnt on 5G and full fibre programmes to ensure that cities are working in parallel in their projects and future planning. 

26 July 2019

The Connected London team hosted Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) officers to discuss the latest project updates for London’s £8.5m of Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund. TfL released contract schedules to bidders for the Telecommunications Commercialisation Project (TCP), this milestone brings Londoners closer to enjoying 4G underground, the ability to make calls/texts and of course brings fibre roll out to public assets through the various grant funding linked with the project. Here is a recent article TfL released for the TCP project.
 
On Monday the team met with Ontix who were recently awarded a concession in Westminster for infrastructure roll out to street assets for 4G and future 5G technology. This week the team hosted the regular monthly meeting with colleagues from across the GLA family to share progress and discuss collaboration on projects. In attendance were Planning Officers to discuss the digital connectivity policies (SI6) for the new London Plan and creating guidance for industry and boroughs to make sure all new developments have full fibre and mobile connectivity. In the afternoon, the team met with Southwark Council to catch up and discuss how to best share good working practices with other Local Authorities.
 
On Tuesday morning, the team attended Wired Westminster, chaired by Councillor Jonathan Glanz, to hear about the initiatives Westminster City Council and others are undertaking to deliver digital connectivity (find out more about Connect Westminster), and give an update on Connected London projects.
 
The team went to Richmond to meet with South London boroughs for the latest round of regional workshops. Here we learned about what projects boroughs are working on to improve connectivity in their respective boroughs and to share best practice and guidance for one another to learn from. We said goodbye and good luck to Richmond’s Chief Information Officer who retires at the end of July after years of dedicated service to the connectivity world. 
 
The team and colleagues from the Infrastructure Mapping Application team and London Underground Asset Register team met with Ofcom to better understand regulation around fibre and mobile infrastructure data. 

2 August 2019

This week the Connected London worked with Building Digital UK (BDUK) officers, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This is to discuss progressing through the grant funding ‘Assurance Gateways’ for London’s £8.5m grant funding from the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund for connecting public sector properties with a full fibre connection through the Connected London Full Fibre Network project. For more information about the Connected London Full Fibre Network project, read here.  
 
The team also progressed several projects and discussions including:  
 
•    Meeting the Smart London team to continue discussions on the Smarter London Together Tracker, and the Quarterly programme and project reporting required by our Governance team. 
•    Introducing a fibre provider to a contact in a London borough to discuss progressing a wayleave application. 
•    Discussing with a fibre provider different wayleave approaches to secure greater coverage.  
•    Working with GLA’s Housing and Land team to progress access arrangements for a mobile infrastructure provider to a GLA site. 
•    The Sharing Cities team to brainstorm opportunities for 5G ideas and alignment of team projects. 
 
On Monday, the team and the Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, met with the GLA’s Government Relations team to brief them on the status of London’s LFFN project, this is to ensure that internal stakeholders, including the Mayor, are informed of milestones or any changes.  
 
On Tuesday, the team took a short trip to Westminster who were hosting the 5th round of regional workshops for North Central London boroughs. These workshops are held at borough offices/town halls with a view that hosting is rotated for each round. Please read our meeting notes which can be found in our newsletters. The ambition of the workshops is to collaborate work streams, coordinate projects and sharing best practice and guidance with boroughs to transform London’s digital landscape. 
 
On Thursday, the team met with an independent company to discuss road management in London and discuss using assets to bring full fibre and 5G connectivity to surrounding areas. 
 
In other news, this week we learned from the HR department that we can now recruit to fill the vacant post in our team for the Digital Connectivity Borough Officer post. This will be advertised in the coming weeks. 

9 August 2019

The Connected London team continued to discuss with boroughs and Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) officers the criteria and eligibility of sites for London’s £8.5m of Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund. This is an important milestone to progress past Gateway B of the Assurance Gateways for the LFFN project. 

The team also spoke with:  

  • A wireless provider who is keen on learning more about the release of the Rooftop and Greenfield Access Agreements. These template agreements will be used between mobile industry and property owners to come to an acceptable compromise for the purpose of installing mobile equipment on sites. This initiative is being funded by the GLA, and is supported by industry, boroughs, landlords and lawyers. The standards are being developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to ensure compliance. 
  • A data analytics company to better understand available data of fibre coverage across London. 
  • The GLA’s Geographic Information System (GIS) team to discuss updates to the Connected London map

On Thursday, the team took a short trip to OPDC’s Union Street offices for the fifth round of regional workshops for West London boroughs. These workshops are held at borough/body offices or town halls with a view that hosting is rotated for each round. Please read our meeting notes which can be found in our newsletters. The ambition of the workshops is to collaborate work streams, coordinate projects and sharing best practice and guidance with boroughs to transform London’s digital landscape. 

After the meeting, colleagues from West London and the West London Alliance (WLA) used the opportunity to discuss the criteria and requirements from boroughs to complete the next round of Strategic Investment Pool (SIP) funding. 

16 August 2019

The team worked on a range of digital connectivity matters this week:  
 

  • Liaised between a London borough and a provider to progress conversations on wayleave agreements. 
  • Spoke to a provider to arrange a meeting with their CEO and the Mayor. 
  • Arranging with a London borough to host the Connected London apprentice to gain experience and skills at borough level. 
  • Shared connectivity contacts with colleagues in the Infrastructure and Development Coordination team for an upcoming workshop. 

 
On Monday, the team had a number of key meetings related to public funding schemes run by DCMS. The team met with OPDC officers to discuss their bid plans for funding available from the Industrial 5G Testbeds & Trials. The team then met with LFFN partner boroughs to discuss the project developments ahead of meeting with DCMS and TfL officers later in the afternoon.  
 
On Tuesday, the team met with the recently established London Estates Delivery Unit to discuss potential project alignments and sharing guidance for London NHS trusts seeking to develop digital strategies and upgrade NHS sites with full fibre. 
 
On Friday, the team met with Openreach contacts for an introductory meeting to the team and to discuss local issues faced by a London borough. 

23 August 2019

The team worked on a range of digital connectivity matters this week:  

  • Liaised with LFFN partners to discuss site list eligibility. 
  • Drafted briefing documents for senior colleagues meeting with a London MP to discuss digital connectivity. 
  • Drafted a report to lobby Ofcom to provide more granularity on their Connected Nations data
  • The team dialled into a conference call with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and UK local authorities to hear about developments on digital connectivity programmes run by DCMS
  • The team spoke with West London Alliance to hear updates on their Strategic Investment Pool funding 
  • Arranged a meeting with Wiredscore to discuss the policy updates to the new London Plan 
  • Spoke with a London borough to arrange a meeting with their Head of ICT and London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell MBE

30 August 2019

On Tuesday the team held the monthly Connected London meeting, inviting internal teams and the Chief Digital Officer to discuss digital connectivity projects in order to raise awareness and collaboration. In the afternoon, the team joined a meeting between Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor, Transport and Deputy Chair, TfL and Seema Malhotra MP for Feltham and Heston, to discuss connectivity to the London borough of Hounslow through TfL’s future fibre network.

On Thursday the team coordinated with Southwark Council to hold the final workshop from this rounds Connected London regional workshops. In attendance were south central London boroughs who shared information about their projects to collaborate, coordinate in order to transform London’s digital landscape. Click here to read the newsletter which summarises learnings from this round of regional workshops.

The team also worked on: 

  • Arranged a meeting with a national provider to discuss their digital ambitions and joint collaborative efforts to improve London connectivity.
  • Provided a connectivity update for a briefing for Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business, who is visiting the Rainham BID area next week.

6 September 2019

On Wednesday, the team met with officers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to discuss London’s LFFN funding and learnt that the Secretary of State and Ministers have decided to not withdraw London’s £8.5m funding following a review of projects where connectivity providers have signalled some future investment. The team also discussed London’s site list to ensure compliance with LFFN criteria and have been asked to round up evidence of the importance of FTTP connections to London sites over the future availability of ultrafast services capable of reaching one gigabit download speeds.

The team also worked on:

  • Reviewing the latest national and London data from the government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
  • Introduced colleagues in the LUAR team to a FTTP provider to discuss the LUAR project to create a digital map of existing underground assets by 1 April 2020.
  • Upon request from a FTTP provider for a number of borough contacts, and subsequent permission to share their details, the team made introductions to discuss potential fibre roll out in these boroughs.
  • Shared summaries of borough activities from the latest regional workshops with boroughs to review/approve ahead of publishing to the next newsletter.
  • Reviewed login chains for the London Industrial Strategy to better understand the potential impact on interventions in a sector.
  • Reviewed stakeholder comments on the draft Rooftop and Greenfield access agreements.
  • Discussed with TfL the pilot options for the LFFN and SIP projects included in the Telecommunications Commercialisation Project.
  • Discussed best practice, guidance and shared experiences with another city about LFFN.

13 September 2019

On Tuesday, the team met with GLA Planning officers to discuss the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area Planning Framework. Officers discussed current coverage in the area and ways to align and promote investment.  

On Thursday, the team attended the London Infrastructure Summit at Tottenham Stadium to hear from multiple industries about ongoing and future projects across London, including digital connectivity. Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer, was part of a panel of peers discussing the challenges to improve connectivity in London and the benefits that full fibre enables. 

On Friday, the team met with a national fibre infrastructure provider, to discuss their build plans for London and discussed how collaboratively challenges to rollout of fibre can be addressed.  

The team also worked on:  

  • Providing requested information to DCMS officers for London’s £8.5m Local Full Fibre Network. 
  • Liaised with a mobile provider to discuss arrangements for an upcoming event which the Mayor is attending. 
  • Reviewed digital connectivity bids from London partnerships from the Strategic Investment Pot
  • Liaised with senior colleagues in the GLA Skills team to discuss an upcoming skills event. 
  • Contacted Ofcom to request mobile consumption data for London as shown in Ofcom’s interactive report. 
  • Spoke with the GLA HR team to progress recruitment for the ‘Digital Connectivity Borough Officer’ vacant post. 
  • Responded to a digital connectivity query from Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP Member of Parliament for Hereford and South Herefordshire & Financial Secretary to the Treasury. 
  • Forwarded the latest newsletter publication to the GLA Digital Communications team to share with our mailing list contacts. You can sign up here to receive future newsletters via email. 

20 September 2019

On Tuesday, the team met with West London Alliance and it’s boroughs to discuss the latest updates to the Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) funding which is being used to improve fibre connectivity in West London.
 
On Thursday, the team met with Wiredscore to discuss the implementation of policy SI6 of the draft London Plan, and understand their experience of working with building managers and developers to deliver digital connectivity. The team also met with NHS colleagues from North East London Commissioning Alliance (NELCA) to discuss opportunities to align fibre projects with boroughs and TfL in order to improve NHS’s digital infrastructure in North East London.
  
The team also worked on:    
 

  • Discussing with GLA Planning officers the requirements for creating a guidance document to sit alongside policy S16 in the draft London Plan. 
  • Arranged a meeting with TfL officers who manage streetworks in order to better understand their work with digital connectivity providers.
  • Spoke with Ashford Borough Council about their planning policy documents for FTTP.
  • Published our latest connectivity newsletter and shared this via email to those signed up to our mailing list.  

27 September 2019

This week the Mayor published a new template agreement for mobile infrastructure. This was developed with legal representatives from land owners, including boroughs, TfL, Cabinet Office, British Property Federation, and others. City of London and Cabinet Office have committed to using this for their sites in future. The templates are available  here, and the press release is available  here
 
London First have also launched a report,  Enhancing Digital Connectivity. The report references the work of the Connected London team and the mobile agreement.  
 
We started the week with our monthly internal meeting with various teams to discuss digital connectivity projects in order to raise awareness and collaboration. The focus of the meeting was reviewing requirements for the Connected London Local Full Fibre Network Fund, and highlighting upcoming Mayoral events relating to digital connectivity.  
 
We met with Leicester City Council’s Smart City Programme Manager to discuss projects and lessons learnt.  
 
The team hosted a quarterly internal meeting with colleagues from TfL, Mopac and LFB to discuss the latest project updates to the Telecommunications Commercialisation Project.  
 
The team also met with TfL’s Streetworks team to better understand their work and make introduction to key stakeholders such as boroughs and connectivity providers.  
 
The team also worked on:   
  

  • Arranging meetings between the Mayor, Theo Blackwell and connectivity providers to better understand their plans for London.  
  • Worked with our technical author, British Standards Institution, Local Authorities, land owners, and mobile network operators to coordinate the launch of the template mobile agreements.  
  • Sharing information about Public Health England’s briefing on mobile infrastructure with local authorities.  
  • Liaised with the GIS team to discuss developing the Connected London map with historic and new data from Ofcom’s Connected Nations data. 
  • Worked on populating DCMS’s Value for Money (VfM) template for LFFN in order to progress through Assurance Gateway B. 
  • Arranged a meeting with consultants who are reviewing the state of digital connectivity in the Royal Docks area. 
  • Contacted providers to better understand fibre availability in the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood area. 
  • Contacted Ofcom to request granularity from the interactive report to better understand London’s mobile data traffic. 
  • Contacted industry representatives to discuss template notifications for new developments, supporting London Plan policy implementation.  
  • Introduced contacts from a London Strategic Partnership and a London borough, to discuss lessons learnt and options for investment.  
  • Worked with borough to identify digital transformation contacts. 

4 October 2019

On Monday, the team met with colleagues in the Infrastructure and Development Coordination Unit who work to improve how infrastructure is planned and delivered in London’s high growth areas. The team discussed the pilot taking place in the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar (IoDSP) Opportunity Area, and the Connected London team offered guidance on getting digital connectivity for the area.    

The team met the lead for new developments in the Growth and Infrastructure team on Tuesday, to brief them on how the Connected London team will be working to implement S16 London Plan policy and ensure every new development will have the digital connectivity required.  

As part of the assurance process for London’s £8.5m LFFN funding, the team spoke with DCMS’s Project Director and Value for Money (VfM) Lead on Wednesday to discuss requirements for demonstrating value for money for the investment.    

Theo Blackwell and the team met with Islington’s CIO on Friday. They discussed Islington’s digital connectivity ambitions and underserved areas, the Connected London’s work programme, and opportunities for joint working and information sharing.  

On Friday, the team met the team working on the Royal Docks development to inform them of the Connected London work programme and identify opportunities to put into place best practice.    

The team also worked on:    

  • Arranged a series of meeting for the High-Level Telecommunication Commercialisation Project (TCP) Group during 2020.  
  • Spoke with Openreach regarding visiting a telephone exchange.  
  • Liaised with boroughs to arrange our next round of regional workshops in early 2020.  
  • Prepped for the next LFFN steering group taking place on 8 October.  
  • Met with Theo Blackwell to discuss the Mayor’s upcoming meetings and events with digital connectivity providers.  
  • Reviewed the latest Ofcom Connected Nations data for London.  

11 October 2019

This week the team held the sixth session of the LFFN Steering Group in the London Fire Brigade offices in Southwark. DCMS officers and boroughs in receipt of LFFN funding and grant funding through the Strategic Investment Pot also attended. The meeting focused on raising awareness amongst boroughs of data and information requirements for DCMS’s Value for Money (VfM) checks. The next Steering Group will be held on 9 December at City Hall.

The team made arrangements for an upcoming external Mayoral event which involved drafting briefings for various attendees, liaising with colleagues in the GLA Press team and working with the external partner to arrange the running order.

This week the Connected London apprentice spent the week on loan to Hackney council’s HackIT team to gain experience on other ways of working outside of the GLA. Thank you to Hackney council for giving this opportunity and hosting a GLA apprentice. 

The team also worked on:

  • Reviewing the latest national and London data from the government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
  • Met with colleagues in the London Plan team to discuss implementation of the SI6 London Plan policy.
  • Met with a London borough to discuss working with multiple fibre operators rolling out fibre simultaneously.
  • Met with Planning officers to discuss fibre provision in the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area.

18 October 2019

Throughout the week, the team responded to various calls and meetings to discuss arrangements for an upcoming external Mayoral event to ensure the smooth running of the event. The team also drafted and submitted a Mayoral Decision form for approval to administer a digital connectivity funding project. 

The team and Theo Blackwell met with BT Group’s England Regions Director to discuss their roll out plans for London. The team also discussed the Connected London work programme and how the team can support roll out of digital infrastructure in London. 

Conversations on the implementation of the digital connectivity policies in the new London Plan continued, with further discussions with ISPA and Wiredscore.  

The team convened with colleagues in the wider unit since the recent restructure with the Transport team, to better understand work programmes and alignment of projects. The team now sits under the Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity unit. 

The team also worked on: 

  • Spoke to boroughs to discuss LFFN arrangements and deadlines. 
  • Submitted a dashboard to internal stakeholders to provide project updates. 
  • Introduced consultants working on the Royal Docks area to a full fibre provider. 
  • Reviewed ‘A councillors guide to digital connectivity’ published by the Local Government Association. 
  • Reviewed the ‘Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill’ mentioned in the Queens Speech to Parliament.

25 October 2019

This week the Mayor announced a £10m fund for London boroughs to roll out full fibre and tackle not spots. This latest funding joins other investments of £15.4m from London Councils for west and north London, and £8.5m LFFN funding for central London and the OPDC area from the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS). The team worked with various internal teams to coordinate this announcement. The Mayor announced the new fund during the launch of Vodafone’s London HQ ‘The Speechmark’ in Southwark with Vodafone’s UK CEO Nick Jeffrey and Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director. Vodafone have relocated their Consumer and Digital HQ and Centre of Excellence from Newbury, bringing around 1000 employees to London. Vodafone’s £6.5m investment cements Bankside and the area in and around Southwark Street as one of the fastest growing centres for creative and digital expertise in London.

The team went to Glasgow to meet with colleagues from Glasgow, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and West Midlands Combined Authority to discuss lessons learnt on 5G and full fibre programmes to ensure that cities are working in parallel in their projects and future planning.
 
Also this week:

01 November 2019

We started the week with our monthly internal meeting with internal teams to discuss digital connectivity projects in order to raise awareness and collaboration. The focus of the meeting was discussing with the London Plan team the implementation phase of the digital policies (S16) in the new London plan. The team later met with colleagues who are developing the London Development Database to discuss the potential for alignment and automation of information for providers.

The team met with colleagues in the GIS team to discuss updating the Connected London Map with new features including adding historic data to show growth in coverage and adding a feature to extract map data for stakeholders to easily extract for reports and briefings. The team has arranged a meeting next week with the GIS team and a handful of borough contacts to develop this idea further. 

Early conversations with London Councils continue to develop the sub regional digital connectivity roles which are being grant funded by the Mayor. These roles will help drive future investment from the public and private sectors, in light of the resource gap that boroughs face in this work area.

The team and Theo Blackwell met with Virgin Media’s Head of Public Affairs to discuss their roll out plans for London. The team also discussed the Connected London work programme and how the team can support roll out of digital infrastructure in London.

Also this week:

  • Submitted an internal application to host an apprentice for 2020/21.
  • Spoke with HR colleagues to invite successful applicants for the Digital Connectivity Borough Officer role to interview stage during mid-November.
  • Spoke to providers and boroughs regarding the Mayor’s £10m fibre announcement and next steps.
  • Invited industry to the next Connected London Forum in late November.

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