Most of us take the digitisation of 21st century life for granted; indeed, we embrace it.
Our laptops, our mobile phones, our contactless payments, our always-on connection to the world via the internet: our normality is a digital normality.
But not everyone is included. Not everyone has a smartphone; not everyone has superfast broadband; not everyone has access to the internet.
In the 21st century, I believe we should treat access to the internet as a human right. I’m far from being the first person to think this: back in 2001, for example, Estonia became one of the first countries to classify such access as a human right.
Estonia’s digitisation scheme has reaped huge rewards in education, in particular during the pandemic.
I believe that a city such as London, a world-leading city, should be at least as ambitious as Estonia, which has been independent for only 30 years.
Organisations such as FutureDotNow are helping bridge the digital divide by providing equipment and training for those excluded from the internet.
Globally, there are even bigger schemes showing what can be done when mayors, big business, philanthropists and charities work together to help make internet access something that is available to all.
In other cities such as Chicago, the Chicago Connected scheme is funding a $50 million project to ensure 100,000 students from families that are most in need will get four years of free, high-speed internet connection, so that their studies are not disadvantaged by digital poverty.
As London mayor, I will supercharge the work already being done to help make the internet accessible to all.
Working in partnership with businesses, charities and other agencies, I will launch an ambitious scheme to ensure no one in London is excluded from the digital world.
With technology partners, we will aim to ensure every person and business in London has access to free high-speed broadband.
In tandem with the relevant agencies, we will make sure people also have access to the kit and training required to use the internet.
We will ensure technology start-ups are supported, promoted, and incubated, and all local council interactions with small businesses are digitised, with quick response times in order to stimulate the economy.
When it comes to Londoners’ digital rights, it’s time we caught up with countries such as Estonia.