Sector - Public Sector

Smart street lamps get green light

Smart tech is to be trialled in towns and cities as part of a £1.3M government pilot to test next-gen digital technology.

Six areas across the UK have been awarded funding to test smart street lamps that can house EV charging hubs and improve wireless coverage networks like 5G or free public WiFi, boosting connectivity for people out and about in town and city centres.

With the rising demand for wireless services, companies are increasingly exploring opportunities to install infrastructure on lamp posts, traffic lights, CCTV columns, benches, bins and bus stops.

The multi-purpose tech can help local authorities unlock new economic, environmental and social benefits.

Funding will be delivered through Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) to level-up digital connectivity, matching government funding for this programme to deliver a total investment of over £4M to help boost local connectivity.

These pilots can also be adapted to carry out a range of functions – from charging EVs to monitoring air quality, and displaying public information to saving energy with street lighting – that will enable councils and combined authorities to unlock new opportunities and improve public services.

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure Sir John Whittingdale said: “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.”

Julian David, CEO, techUK said: “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.”

The SIPP is designed to support the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which sets out how the UK will put wireless connectivity at the heart of new and existing infrastructure, while driving private investment, boosting innovation, and unlocking new opportunities for economic growth.

The pilot programmes will begin from October 2023 and will run until 31 March 2025.

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