Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) is looking to build upon the unprecedented demand for digital connectivity to help businesses and communities recover from the crisis and put them at the leading edge for technology.
It has developed proposals for two new workstreams under the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, which will be considered by the CPCA Housing and Communities Committee on Monday 22 June.
Powering local economy & digital inclusion
The new ‘Keeping Everyone Connected’ workstream includes a bid for a business grants scheme using EU funding to help small and medium-sized enterprises transition to increasing reliance on digital technology to strengthen the resilience of the local economy. Match funding of £430,000 from the CPCA will be used to support an application to the EU European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) for the business grant scheme to be launched later this year, if approved.
The aim for this work is to also support greater digital inclusion across communities, to ensure that social housing residents are not excluded from future-facing digital provision. The fourth phase of the superfast broadband rollout is also underway, targeting hard-to-reach rural premises aiming to achieve 99% superfast coverage by the end of 2020, subject to the impact of Covid-19.
The second new workstream is ‘Advanced Communications and Emerging Technologies’ that will include a new ‘Smart Places’ work package will trial ‘smart’ technology and data solutions in several market towns over the next eighteen months. The project includes providing SmartPanels - using real-time transport information to provide local travel updates - and low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) networks.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer, said:
“The increasing importance of digital connectivity in almost all aspects of 21st Century living - from economic activity and sustainability through to community wellbeing - has been highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis. Our businesses and communities have had to work, communicate and live in very different ways, with digital connectivity underpinning many of these changes.
“We're all working together to help the region move from rescue to recovery. The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme supports our commitment to delivering outstanding digital connectivity to support economic recovery, respond to local needs and improve people’s quality of life.”
techUK’s Head of Local Public Services Georgina Maratheftis commented:
“It is fantastic to see this digital ambition from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority. It rightly recognises the critical role digital can also play in the recovery phase, for both businesses and our communities. techUK is actively working with local authorities and places on the challenges and opportunities outlined in their new workstream proposals and we would welcome the opportunity to work with Mayor James Palmer and his team to help deliver the vision and engage with the breadth and depth of technology and innovation available.”