London councils to share technology procurement platform

A new technology procurement platform will help all 33 local councils in London diversify their IT supplier portfolios

Technology providers now have access to a platform which puts all IT contracts across London’s boroughs into one place to help them bid for contracts and support local government’s drive to use a wider range of suppliers.

Currently, 90% of the capital’s public sector IT contracts are held by just 15 suppliers.

The Thirty3 platform, launching at London Tech Week, will expand opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to better compete.

The platform gives SMEs an aggregated view of procurement opportunities and provides public sector organisations in the city with clearer information on what products are available. Opportunities are made clear through the visualisation of information about often-intimidating public sector procurement processes.

Thirty3 was funded by the London Economic Action Partnership and the London Growth Hub, and developed by the Greater London Authority and London startup Nitrous in partnership with the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI).

London’s chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “Thirty3 will make London more open to innovation by creating a city-wide platform to understand technology needs across the public sector for the first time. This will diversify London’s tech infrastructure, improve services for Londoners and help public bodies save money.”

According to a statement from the Mayor of London’s office: “Thirty3 is an example of a shared commitment to supporting SMEs across London – and giving government organisations greater buying power, more customisability and more choice when procuring technology to ensure London remains a centre of innovation.”

The mayor is also publishing a series of “playbooks” – guides aimed at helping the public sector harness technology innovation.

The guides have come out of an EU-funded project, led by London mayor Sadiq Khan, called Sharing Cities, which looks at smart city developments in London, Lisbon and Milan.

The first playbooks, which document the implementation experiences of existing smart city initiatives, will cover e-bike sharing, the digital social market, energy retrofit for buildings, sustainable energy management systems and the internet of things.

“This is the kind of collaboration which will help us use smart solutions to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing London – and help to create a smarter, future-proof and digitally inclusive city,” said Blackwell.

LOTI, which was launched in June last year, is leading a number of London-wide digital initiatives. Blackwell has said LOTI plays a “crucial role in mobilising the capital’s tech sector”.

“Our work together takes the next step in city-wide collaboration by supporting the common building blocks – data-sharing, leadership, talent, creating and sharing digital services together – that London needs as we go through a period of rapid technological change,” Blackwell said at the launch.

In November 2019, LOTI launched a report and interactive dashboard that maps technologies, contracts and skills across boroughs in the capital.

In its first annual report, published in July this year, LOTI management noted that it initially thought the coronavirus outbreak would mean a total shift in its strategy, but the pandemic has shown the organisation’s “objectives and ways of working are more important than ever”, in particular when it comes to data.

“Tackling barriers to using data is vital – without good data, we can’t see what’s going on and who needs help. And right since day one, we’ve said that all our work must focus on achieving real-world outcomes that matter to Londoners,” LOTI’s programme manager Onyeka Onyekwelu said in the report’s foreword.

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