I am not a techie. I do, however, recognise what technology can mean for people and their lives.
At first it seems 5G is all about technology and innovation. It is to a point but that is not where the story stops.
Up until now, each generation of mobile technology has been adding to and enhancing what we already can do. 5G blasts this out of the water by offering an abundance of innovative mobile options. The tough bit is deciding how to direct the whirlwind of activity and interest in 5G, and where to focus our new super powers.
My suggestion is that we put what 5G can do for people at the forefront of discussions and how it can improve lives by giving more choice. It will allow people to learn in a way that stimulates thought and discussion. It will allow people to live independently and where they want within a safe and supportive environment. It will free up people from process-driven tasks to focus on activities that need skills and talent. It will create products that are bespoke to individuals.
The way I look at 5G is as an enabler to give us choice about how we live and work together. And this idea of working together is at the core of how we are going to realise 5G.
You will all have heard the 5G buzz word – collaboration – but many people are struggling to know what this means. A tangible action at this stage in the development of 5G is knowledge sharing and promoting best practice. There are some great initiatives across Scotland and the UK that we can learn from and build on. There are a number of working groups and forums that are pulling people together from different geographies and sectors who are looking at the common opportunities and challenges on the road ahead. This is great to see, particularly in a commercial market.
The question I hear a lot, though, is: ‘That’s all well and good, but how do we get access to this knowledge?’ One of the aims of the Scotland 5G Centre is to act as a knowledge exchange. By having a visible national focal point for 5G we can ensure we are building on what we already have in place, sharing with others and taking the conversation forward. You’ll be hearing more about our progress on this in the coming weeks and months.
Sarah Eynon is an Associate Director in the Digital Infrastructure Team at Scottish Futures Trust. She has driven the establishment of the Scotland 5G Centre and will remain a member of the executive team as the Policy and Practice Director. She also sits on the UK5G working group that focuses on SME support and development.