With a new prime minister, mayor and London borough leaders, this autumn we are presented with a unique opportunity to rethink the kind of city we want to shape. Going into the third cycle since launching in 2020, NLA Expert Panels have been transformational in how we programme content, inﬂuence policy and instigate further discussion on key issues facing London’s built environment.
We’ve now got 15 panels, and after two years of responding to policy consultations, formulating industry surveys, visiting key areas of transformation and sharing invaluable intelligence, they are all working together to shape the New London Agenda: NLA’s multi-year project that will develop a joined-up vision for London to be presented to the next mayoral candidates.
It’s not an easy task we’ve given them, and we still have over a year of work and fruitful conversations, but for now, we will be sharing a round-up written by each of our Expert Panel chairs, summarising strategic areas that they will take forward into the next cycle to lay out the foundations for the agenda — we can’t wait to continue working together towards a new vision for London.
BUILT ENVIRONMENT TECHNOLOGY
Camilla Siggaard Andersen, Urban Research Lead, Hassell
The panel was set up to bring together “the tech and built environment sector, connecting innovators, tech specialists and urban practitioners to discuss how emerging technologies and practices could solve key urban problems.” The panel was also intended to “champions the role of the capital as an incubator for technological innovation in property and city making.”
During the year, the panel met three times, but from the very first meeting, it became clear that the group was both incredibly passionate about the opportunities and challenges presented by technology in the built environment, and knowledgeable across a range of areas related to this topic.
With such great expertise and a wide selection of issues to address, the focus and scope of our discussions naturally shifted around quite a bit throughout the year. It felt important to create space for the panellists to shape the agenda, which in turn limited the amount of time that could be spent on developing any one proposition.
With this summary, we hope to set out a foundation for next year’s conversations, enabling the panel to progress their thinking on the issues that are most pertinent:
- The holistic vision for the application of digital technology in the built environment is missing. What do we want our city to look and feel like in 50 years, and how are the technologies we are developing and implementing today supposed to get us there?
- The (mis)use of data and information management systems in the shaping and running of the built environment. How do we weigh up the costs (money, privacy, time) and investments (upgrades, upskilling) against the benefits that might be unlocked, and the risks (bias, malfunction, obsolescence, crime) involved?
- The impact of technology on the industry has long dominated discussions of the future, but it is clear that there is a shift happening towards a more human-centric narrative. The EU has, for example, put forward a plan for Industry 5.0, which specifically is about “putting research and innovation at the service of the transition to a sustainable, human-centric, and resilient European industry”. How do we ensure that the implementation of built environment technology (and especially user-facing applications and green tech) also adopts this view?