With the first stakeholder engagement event to inform our smart city vision almost one year ago, June 2019 marked the commencement of a fast-paced, agile approach to 5G implementation in Sunderland.
Our Smart City team has pulled together a timeline of activities to showcase our achievements to date in this supercharged momentum piece which aptly demonstrates our focused mindset.
June 2019 marked the beginning of Sunderland’s journey with stakeholder engagement to inform our smart city vision and high-level strategy. This engagement with city leaders representing the health, education and business sectors; shaped the aims and objectives to ensure planning was focused on driving impact and making a difference both in the short and long term.
From here, it was obvious that there was both a need and an appetite for continued digital transformation across the city to enable and equip individuals and businesses with the technology and skills they require to succeed now and in the future.
Within a matter of weeks of analysing the needs of the city, came the creation of the Smart City Programme Management Office and appointment of technical specialists, Perform Green, who are supporting the roll out of the high-speed communications infrastructure, which underpins our Smart City Vision.
In November 2019, our City Plan was approved, highlighting what is needed to achieve the city’s bold and ambitious vision to create a connected, international city by 2030 with opportunities for all.
Our Smart City vision is defined as one of an engaged collective of people, places and opportunities able to grow as individuals and as successful businesses in a smart, connected city.
The City Plan is built around three interdependent themes: dynamic, healthy and vibrant. It provides the insight and blueprint to effect change over the next ten years and beyond.
December brought the approval of the Smart City Programme and business case. The business case is anchored around key use case themes to transform the lives, economy and environment of Sunderland:
- Smart Homes
- Learning and Skills
- Industry 4.0 & IoT
- Business Start-up Culture
- Sports Excellence and Major Events
- Digital City Centre
December continued to be a busy month with the initial deployment and rollout of 5G ready ultrafast connectivity in various locations across the city, including:
- Free ultrafast public WiFi in Sunderland city centre (Keel Square and High Street West) equipped those visiting the city with free daily access to reliable, fast WiFi for all their download and browsing needs on the go
- Ultrafast connectivity into various community rooms – specifically Hedworth Court to facilitate the delivery of ultrafast WiFi connectivity into Hedworth Court’s community room to aid residents’ access to connect digitally with others as well as perform tasks they were previously unable to reliably do without a fast, dependable connection
Also, in December 2019, Sunderland was appointed as a member of the Digital Leaders Cities Programme, further cementing our drive to build digital confidence and connectivity.
Ultrafast WiFi connectivity installed at Hudson Road Primary School in Hendon, Sunderland. With security and privacy as cornerstones for this implementation, key objectives included the ability to help teachers, parents and pupils to feel secure and to gain reliable access to ultrafast WiFi.
The addition of this high-speed wireless network at Hudson Road Primary School meant that the school could provide a seamless learning experience for pupils, enjoying connectivity way beyond their previous limits, including: online training, Skype video calling and digital interaction with other schools, as well as valued teacher-pupil and teacher-parent communications.
The Sunderland Digital Strategy launched in February this year, was the pinnacle of a whole host of work to combine objectives with an implementation plan to drive the city forward. Our digital strategy brings together all elements of the City Programme to connect people to places through a decade of social and digital transformation.
Through a series of regeneration initiatives, digital upskilling and ultrafast connectivity; we lay out how we will grow a connected, international city with opportunities for all.
Working in partnership to deliver cutting-edge 5G connectivity saw the appointment of Bevan Brittan in February – a UK-Top 100 national law firm, as a key enabler for the procurement of a strategic consortium for which to deliver cutting-edge 5G connectivity across the Sunderland city region.
Aligned to the City Plan, this will assist the delivery of real benefits to residents, businesses and visitors. The implementation of this next generation connectivity infrastructure underpins our vision to realise sustainable economic development and improvements to the health and wellbeing of individuals, as well as the vibrancy of the city.
Proving to be another busy month, February also saw the implementation of intelligent traffic mapping across the Wearmouth Bridge, St Mary’s Boulevard and St Michael’s Way. This traffic mapping project is a joint initiative funded by Sunderland City Council in partnership with KBR and Vivacity. Our joint aim is to revolutionise how transport is managed enabling teams of experts to capture, analyse and classify live transport usage, 24/7.
The innovative city centre project will gain insights into road usage and the movement of vehicles to enhance future plans, inform accurate predictions and minimise congestion. All underpinned by an eco-conscious drive to help the environment and lessen the damaging effects of congestion and inefficient road use.
Not one to rest on our laurels, we also announced major digital infrastructure enhancement to futureproof the city with the installation of 2.6km of fibre ducting into the entire length of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor 3 (SSTC3).
This is evidence of our commitment to creating a liveable and inclusive city fit for the future. The implementation of ducting under the new SSTC3 will enable the installation of new ultrafast broadband, which will enhance opportunities available for businesses and residents alike.
Ultrafast connectivity in to Dock Street community room provided residents with ultrafast connectivity. This is a great benefit to the individuals living here who were previously unable to complete many tasks which required a fast, dependable connection.
In March, we also launched our ‘Make it Digital, Make it Sunderland’ connectivity prospectus. This illustrates the shared smart vision for the city that ‘by 2030, Sunderland will be a connected, international city with opportunities for all’.
Aimed at driving positive outcomes aligned to the City Plan of becoming a dynamic, healthy and vibrant city; the prospectus explores how Sunderland will build on its existing digital strengths to connect people and organisations, enabling transformational digital change.
April-May 2020 and beyond
The past year has shown fast-paced progress against planned objectives. With public health and safety as paramount drivers, careful planning continues to ensure sensible progress can continue in the current climate.
Committed to enhancing and enabling our city, residents and businesses; here at Sunderland City Council, we are set to continue our ambitious plans with an agile and impactful approach throughout 2020.