This conference examined next steps for development and delivery of connected places in the UK.
It was an opportunity for stakeholders and policymakers to discuss the evolution from urban-based ‘smart cities’, with greater emphasis now placed on use of data, encompassing a more people-centred approach, stronger alignment and contribution to climate policy, and bringing the potential benefits of systems and technology to rural areas.
Stakeholders and key policymakers assessed what is needed to achieve ambitions for connected places, looking at the potential for investment, physical and digital infrastructure, technological requirements, and community engagement.
They also considered priorities for addressing concerns over privacy and cybersecurity, impact on freedom of choice, costs and sustainability, and inequalities.
The discussion took place with recent policy developments, including:
- UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy - outlining the Government’s ambitions and roadmap for delivering world-class digital connectivity
- Environmental Improvement Plan - including ambitions for everyone to have green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home, and for urban green cover to increase to 40% in residential areas
- Net Zero Review - with the government response published in March 2023, supporting integration of low carbon transport and infrastructure
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Holly Creek, Acting Director, Digital Infrastructure, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology; Sam Markey, Ecosystems Director, Place Leadership, Connected Places Catapult; and Jenny Millard, Associate Director, KPMG.
Overall, areas for discussion included:
- built infrastructure: priorities for smart and sustainable infrastructure across buildings, transport and energy - opportunities and challenges for planning
- investment: overcoming challenges for both public and private finance - priorities for developing local economies
- technology: examining next steps in the role of technology and data utilisation - priorities for cybersecurity and data handling - wireless connectivity - rollout of 5G and 6G ambitions
- net zero ambitions: opportunities for facilitating climate action and building resilience - tackling noise and air pollution - establishing green spaces - infrastructure development
- engagement: addressing concerns regarding connected places, including around privacy, inequalities and cost - encouraging citizen input and collaboration
- the role of local government: improving communication and collaboration between regions - challenges and opportunities for rural areas
- service delivery: transport - waste management - water management - healthcare and schooling - energy
- international examples: learning from international connected places - connecting with international policies, agreements and the SDGs
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from BDUK; Cabinet Office; CCC; DAERA, NI; DBT; Defra; DCMS; Department for Communities, NI; Department for the Economy, NI; Department for Infrastructure, NI; Department of Finance, NI; DESNZ; DfE; DfT; DLUHC; DSIT; GLD; HMRC; Homes England; HSE; Isle of Man Government; NCSC; OEP; Ofcom; The Executive Office, NI; Transport Scotland; UKSA; and the Welsh Government.