Thoughts on London Strategic Plan #ldnstratplan

OK … so I missed the deadline of Dec 12, but the following is a note that I sent to the City of London as feedback for the Strategic Plan that’s under development with the new mayor Matt Brown and council that we’re pretty excited about!

The notes are rough and some completely void of proper feasibility considerations, but they’ve been on my mind for some time and this seems like a perfect opportunity to share these ideas, thoughts on best practices and conversation about how to shape and restructure London.

Here goes …

Hello,

My name is Bill Wittur.  I’ve lived in London with my family for nearly 10 years and we never regret our choice of home and city to live in.  I personally have about 20 years experience working in marketing, finance and other services and I am a seasoned ‘digital entrepreneur’, having started 3 different businesses over the last 15 years, including our recent startup and successful venture into the wine business called Noteworthy Wines, the only wine agency that’s based in London, Ontario.

I missed the deadline related to the London Strategic Plan, but I hope you don’t mind that I’ve still got some feedback.  I would summarize it with two words:  green and digital.  Some notes are offered below, with 100% apologies to those who have already looked at, acted on, reviewed, analyzed or even rejected some of the ideas.  Another general recommendation is that organizers should put together a wiki or forum where people can share these thoughts in a public manner.

Some thoughts related to a green city:

  • off-grid or zero impact new communities
  • easier mobility for commuters
  • unrestricted and safe mobility for pedestrians, cyclists and non-car commuters, including pedestrian overpasses at rail sites through the city
  • composting & gardening opportunities
  • ‘Up, not out':  intensification instead of suburbanization – we have reached our boundaries, now let’s infill as much as possible.  Stop letting developers build skyscrapers on the outskirts of town.
  • a smarter transit plan – we may need more buses, but think about smaller, electric buses that get small groups of people around more efficiently without adding congestion to the streets
  • targets:  set ‘green’ targets that all Londoners can shoot towards.  Offer ‘rewards’.
  • PACE:  use municipal legislation to encourage solar and wind installations for residences and businesses
  • Green roofing program
  • Smart Power:  work with London Hydro to integrate green initiatives into lower energy costs

Some thoughts related to a digital city:

  • Consider the use of the phrase ‘digital destination’ as a theme that people can embrace.  I will even personally hand over our URL digitaldestination.ca if the City of London wants it.
  • Focus on advancing our ‘muni-pipe’ or hard fibre that exists to support London’s digital infrastructure.  Any time we open streets for construction or other projects, the City needs to invest in high quality broadband fibre (ie. wiring) that will advance the quality of internet services in London
  • Open source / open technology:  the City spends millions on proprietary programs and software and needs to get away from this expense.
  • Encourage / stimulate a local media or new and information infrastructure that is not controlled by parties outside London.
  • Work with Fanshawe and Western to develop state of the art digital education programs (programming, media awareness, digital planning & ecommerce, etc)
  • Venture capital:  help innovators and entrepreneurs access capital and advise them on how to develop their companies so that they are more attractive to investors
  • Face-to-face interaction:  groups like UnLondon and 121 Studios are doing great things when it comes to supporting the local digital community, but they need more support and we need more groups like them to stimulate activity.

I have a history of providing even more thoughts on building a ‘Digital Destination’, which can be read on my blog here.

Finally, there is a specific issue that has stuck in my mind since moving here.  About 8 years ago, the London Transit Commission and the government of the day decided to hand off the budget, planning, implementation and – most importantly – most of the revenue associated with ads on LTC buses, depots and stops.  As a media expert, I thought this was an odd decision, because it meant collecting advertising dollars from local businesses and funneling those funds to a third-party outside London.  I never got a sense of dollars involved, but I think it’s important to revisit this contract to ensure that the LTC and the City are able to capture more revenue.

Thanks!

Bill.