From BCP Council who have changed the way they work with partners to harness and deploy 5G, to exploring the progress of the Governments Testbeds and Trials programme, to hearing case real world examples of how 5G has been harnessed by Barcelona, the 5G in Action event in Bournemouth made for a very interesting day.
At a local level Ruth Spencer, who is leading BCP Council's Digital Economy Strategy, highlighted that the Council are taking a Smart Place based approach to connectivity. Ruth is working to use the combined strength of communities, its residents, businesses and public bodies to deliver better outcomes for place through the smart application of technology. To compliment this, the Council are developing the future role of the public sector which includes the option for a single, shared network solution provided on an open access basis to all mobile operators (neutral host model). This is alongside Smart Place platforms and applications, new business models, data governance and security sit behind this as well as the deployment of mmWave 5G.
Nationally, Ian Smith from DCMS said that this time last year 5G was just becoming a reality. This year EE and Vodafone have launched, and the others are about to.
Ian highlighted how much funding the UK Government are putting into delivering better connectivity and why connected communities is at the heart of this project. Examples include the Urban Connected Communities Project in the West Midlands that is part funded by the Government, who showcased their connected ambulance.
Through the connected ambulance, paramedic crews at an incident could access specialist advice while they are at the scene, for example, video conferencing with consultants or other clinical specialists. The network will also be able to live stream patient data from the ambulance en-route to the hospital to help inform the immediate care patients receive on arrival. This was very similar to one of the many use cases Xavier Nuñez from i2CAT Foundation showed is being piloted in Barcelona.
The event showed that the Governments Testbeds and Trials programme is trying to help communities in many other ways. Stephen Hilton from West of England Combined Authority explored how their testbed is using 5G to evolve and expand on the tourism sector using technology, ensuring jobs don't disappear whilst upskilling and, possibly increasing the number of jobs whilst enhancing local connectivity. The Rural First testbed, which involves over 30 consortium partners, was shown by Dez O'Connor of CISCO and Dave Happy of Telinet to be pioneering new approaches to the deployment of connectivity in rural areas to benefit local industries evolve, such as agriculture, manufacturing and renewable energy.
Whilst there were lots of examples of how councils and other public sector partners are currently working together to deploy and harness 5G there were lots of questions left unanswered. Some audience members had future funding related questions, such as how can councils think about deploying expensive infrastructure whilst they are finding it hard to fund statutory services? And who will fund more accurate special mapping, something needed to target deployment?
techUK are doing a lot of work in this area, including working with stakeholders to hold workshops and write reports; see below or get in touch for more details:
- A look into the Rural Connected Communities Project
- Councils & industry join to discuss journey to superfast broadband
- Boroughs & providers join to develop London-wide connectivity approach
- Government to boost 5G and simplify planning to help mobile deployment
- Report: How can 5G technology support the emergency services?
- UK Spectrum Policy Forum commission two independent studies