Smart street lamps that can charge electric vehicles and boost wireless coverage will be rolled out in towns and cities across UK, as part of a £1.3 million pilot to test next-generation digital technologies. With rising demand for wireless services, companies are increasingly exploring opportunities to install infrastructure on lamp posts, traffic lights, CCTV, benches, bins and bus stops.
That is why six areas from across UK will receive funding to trial new multi-purpose street columns which will house equipment to support rollout of advanced wireless networks like 5G or free public Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), boosting connectivity for people out and about in town and city centres. The pilots will match government funding for this programme, receiving a total investment of over £4 million to help boost local connectivity. The government will provide £1.3 million, while the local authorities will invest a further £2.7 million, helping to deliver better services in communities.
These pilots can also be adapted to carry out a range of functions from charging EVs (electric vehicles) to monitoring air quality, and displaying public information to saving energy with street lighting. This will enable councils and combined authorities to unlock new opportunities and improve public services.
The six authorities which will receive government funding through the Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) are:
• Cambridgeshire County Council (£220,000)
• Tees Valley Combined Authority (£202,500)
• Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (£245,700)
• Westminster City Council (£165,000)
• Oxfordshire County Council (£250,000)
• North Ayrshire Council (£242,765)
By trialling different uses across these areas, the aim is to show how wireless technology can become an integral part of UK infrastructure. This will connect public services and businesses in new ways to realise benefits of 5G and advanced connectivity.
“The way we stay in touch, access information and do business is underpinned by digital connectivity and a world-class wireless infrastructure will be the foundation for the jobs, skills, and services of the future. We want to ensure that towns and cities across the UK are right at the forefront of this connectivity revolution, ready to seize the opportunities it will bring for local communities, which is exactly what these pilots are about. They will help demonstrate how advanced wireless technology can enable areas to innovate and deliver better public services, from rolling out electric vehicle chargers to boosting business growth and helping keep our streets safe.” says John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome step from the UK government in putting wireless connectivity at the heart of local infrastructure deployment. We must empower more local authorities so that they can foster the greater use of advanced connectivity in their areas, helping unlock growth and innovation across the whole of the UK. As techUK set out in our recent Tech Plan, we must give consumers the confidence to switch to electric vehicles to help overcome “range anxiety”, one of the major factors preventing greater uptake of EVs. We hope these pilots can help other local areas realise the benefits that smart infrastructure promises.” says Julian David, CEO, techUK.
The SIPP is designed to support government’s wireless infrastructure strategy. This will set out how UK will put wireless connectivity at the heart of new and existing infrastructure, while driving private investment, boosting creation, and unlocking new opportunities for economic growth.