The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has announced funding of £1.3 million for six local projects to use street columns in boosting wireless coverage and providing charging for electric vehicles.
It has made the money available under its Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP), saying the local authorities involved will provide a further £2.7 million between them.
The councils involved are Cambridgeshire (which has received £220,000), Tees Valley Combined Authority (£202,500), Kingston upon Thames (£245,700), Westminster (£165,000), Oxfordshire (£250,000) and North Ayrshire (£242,765).
DSIT said the pilots will focus on a range of functions, including charging electric vehicles, monitoring air quality and displaying public information, aimed at improving public services. It is also aiming to show how wireless technology can become an integral part of UK infrastructure.
World class foundation
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.”
Empowering local authorities
Julian David, CEO of IT industry association 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 pilots will run until the end of March 2025.