Mission 3: World-class connectivity and smarter streets

The number of connected devices, whether a mobile phone on a person, a smart meter in the home, an air quality sensor on the street or an energy meter in the workplace, is growing at a huge rate. Ofcom estimates they will increase 12-fold in the UK by 2026. Mobile data use alone is growing at more than 30 per cent a year. The current provision of connectivity across London needs to improve significantly so that the city can continue to grow and prosper as a digital economy, and smart solutions can be tested and adopted.

Our new approach to connectivity will work across London to coordinate investment, mobilise public and private land and assets, lower costs for providers and consumers and increase choice. We want to see more of this and work in collaboration with partners - such as public bodies, private landowners and providers - to build this into a city-wide approach. 
To enable this next stage, the Mayor will: 

  • launch a new Connected London programme to coordinate connectivity and 5G projects
  • propose planning powers, like requiring full fibre to the home for all new developments, to enhance connectivity in the future
  • enhance public wifi in streets and public buildings to assist those who live, work and visit London
  • support a new generation of smart infrastructure through major combined procurements
  • promote common standards with smart tech to maximise benefit

Launch the Connected London programme

Connected London - The Mayor will launch a Connected London programme that will tackle ‘notspots’ and mobilise public-sector property across London to reduce the costs of full fibre deployment.  

Creative Enterprise Zones - We will work with teams across the GLA and London’s boroughs to ensure access to exemplary affordable fixed and mobile digital connectivity in the new Creative Enterprise Zones, which enable artists and creative businesses to locate together in affordable studios and workspaces.

5G - We will ensure the capital’s readiness for 5G by creating a pan-London bid for the Urban Connected Communities Fund. We will develop integrated strategies and governance frameworks, including template standardised wayleaves and agreements, to deliver a new 5G standard for London.

The new Connected London programme sets out the Mayor’s ambition to achieve ubiquitous gigabit-capable digital connectivity and to prepare London for the rollout of 5G. 

An important way of achieving a more connected city is through the mobilisation of public land, buildings and smaller assets. In the future, sharing data between infrastructure owners - TfL, utilities, real estate - will help connectivity providers build their networks more cheaply and easily and Londoners will be less disrupted by building and street works. Our new Connectivity Forum and support for boroughs will be an important vehicle for this. 


TfL will secure significant investment in fibre capability in the London Underground

The Mayor, through TfL, has made a start by bringing mobile coverage to London Underground and to use TfL’s assets. TfL will also deploy fast digital connectivity along key transport corridors by securing significant investment in fibre capability in the London Underground. City Hall, TfL and London boroughs successfully collaborated in winning an £8.5m Full Fibre Network grant in March 2018. By linking 50 public buildings to the fibre network on the Tube, this will provide extra local connectivity to the surrounding area.

Propose planning powers to require full fibre to the home and mobile connectivity

London Plan - Planning policies under consideration in the Mayor’s draft London Plan include requiring new development across London to provide full fibre connectivity to the home and meet expected demand for mobile connectivity. These provisions can support mobile and wireless connectivity, such as rooftop access. 

Today only around five per cent of London properties are able to access residential fibre to the property (or ‘fttp’) services. While higher grade dedicated leased lines are available across much of the capital, most affordable options in London are still limited to copper delivery methods. Mobile and wireless operators need more consistency and certainty across London boroughs when planning and installing infrastructure. Business connectivity, particularly for the tech and creative clusters needs to be improved. 

By developing policies and tools with boroughs and providers, and supporting their implementation through guidance and training, we will help the capital resolve digital ‘not spots’ in under-served places, including the Underground and critical transport corridors. We will also promote greater choice for the citizen or business.

The new London Plan, currently under consultation and scheduled for adoption in 2019, provides a major opportunity to enhance personal, residential and business digital connectivity and necessary data infrastructure. Our new approach proposes that the provision of digital infrastructure is as important for the proper functioning of the city as energy, water and waste management services. As such, it should be treated with the same importance.  

Enhance public wifi in streets and public buildings

Public wifi - The Mayor will support coordination of public wifi services in London.

GovWifi and GovRoam - The Mayor will explore a London-wide wifi service focused on improving flexible working in the public sector.

The availability of public wifi has become a service expected by citizens and visitors. The city and boroughs have a role in ensuring open access to all citizens on our streets and in our public buildings. It can support access where people gather, from rooftop cinemas to pop-up bars. As many boroughs prepare for a new public wifi concession, the opportunity presents itself for greater collaboration.  

internet tube

TfL has invested in wifi connectivity in Tube stations

Public service productivity can be improved for the workforce by ensuring consistent access across the public estate, enabling more flexible and ‘on-site’ working. GovWifi is being developed by GDS and Jisc is developing GovRoam as products public sector organisations can use. In both cases, users of these networks can now log on and access the internet securely in hundreds of new public-sector locations around London.

A new generation of smart city infrastructure

The Mayor will accelerate the take-up of smart infrastructure through the Sharing Cities programme in order to make the city safer, cleaner and more liveable by enhancing our ability to use data and technology.  

Across London we are exploring how we support smart infrastructure when old ‘street furniture’ (lamp posts, benches and shelters) is renewed. We can start by supporting a new generation of lampposts whose capability goes beyond providing light, but can include air quality sensors, public wifi, cameras, electric vehicle charge points, electricity for filming and festivals, and potential for 5G rollout. The GLA leads on the Horizon 2020-funded Sharing Cities programme. As part of this, Sharing Cities is seeking European Investment Bank seed funding of between €1-3m to explore the collaborative procurement of smart lampposts for five city regions across Europe including London. This will build on the continuing replacement of thousands of lampposts by TfL and boroughs. Through collaboration we can reduce costs, provide common designs, secure finance and make the technology more easily available to boroughs.

Common standards for smarter built environment  

The Mayor will propose guidance on common standards for smart infrastructure in new developments in his draft London Plan.

The growth in demand for smarter buildings, infrastructure and workspaces in our public realm creates real potential for testing innovative infrastructure. However, it also creates potential for duplication or waste if smart tech is adopted without properly regarding the needs and security of citizens. The Mayor can support innovation through common standards and initiatives in smart infrastructure procurement, so that the industry can innovate at scale with more confidence. 

Adoption of common standards in smart infrastructure across London and sharing of performance data with designers and engineers will improve the design and performance of London’s future buildings, spaces and streets. The Mayor’s Design Advocates will advise on how this data should be collected and shared as part of the Mayor’s Good Growth by Design programme.


Guidance on smart infrastructure will improve future buildings, spaces, and streets