Skip to main content

Smart City news

All the latest smart city news and information

Published on: 31 January 2022

Last updated: 31 January 2022

Council launches Digital Academy to tackle digital exclusion

With its new Digital Academy, the Council has launched a range of programmes for residents and businesses designed to promote digital inclusivity and improve access to groups underrepresented in tech careers.

The Digital Academy brings together a range of tech partners including Microsoft, O2 and Google, working with the Council to help combat digital exclusion. 

The Academy is one of the first steps in Westminster’s Smart City programme, and offers anyone who lives or works in the city the chance to improve their digital skills. 

Bringing together diverse learning opportunities, the programme will foster a culture of learning, innovation and empowerment across Westminster. 

The Academy includes a range of programmes to reach the most digitally excluded, starting with the city’s youth and older populations, as well as local businesses. 

Focusing on younger people, Westminster will be hiring 9 candidates from diverse backgrounds as part of the Tech Lions Talent Programme; they will be given the opportunity to work within the Council in tech roles and spend time at leading tech companies to super-charge their careers. 

Additionally, the city’s Smart Schools competition will see project partner Microsoft host a day of activities at local schools with inspiring prizes on offer. 

These will include experience days at Microsoft’s offices, to encourage young people to explore careers in tech and gain confidence in their digital skills. 

For older members of the community, the Academy will focus on tackling digital exclusion. 

Westminster has already begun to recruit local Digital Ambassadors to take part in their train-the-trainer scheme which will see them go on to help other residents take on digital tasks. 

With a focus on local businesses, the council has partnered with Ontix to provide connectivity at local markets and the Rebel Business School to teach local market traders how to create a presence online to boost their businesses engagement and profit. 

These projects will be brought together in an online hub which will work in tandem with community centres to support those looking to improve their digital skills for personal or business growth. 

These programmes will be holding engagement events and competitions to inspire the community to become more confident online. 

Commenting on the initiative, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Aruj Haider said: 

Westminster’s Digital Academy gives our community opportunities to come together, inspire each other and learn the digital skills they need to seize every opportunity the city has to offer. For many in Westminster the online world is daunting, so our aim is to create a space where everyone feels comfortable participating, to break down barriers, and open the door for a new generation of talent to enter tech roles. 

Councillor Paul Swaddle, Westminster’s cabinet member heading up the Smart City programme, added: 

Today’s launch of the Digital Academy is an exciting step towards ensuring that nobody feels excluded from the digital world we live in. This is just the start of a long-term initiative to make Westminster a world-leading Smart City and we hope that we can bring everyone along on this journey to learn together and create a more empowered community in the process.