Scotland can be a beacon showcasing the transformational benefits of digital connectivity
By Paul Coffey, CEO, Scotland 5G Centre
First published by FutureScot.
The rollout of 5G in Scotland is delivering on its promise to create social, economic and environmental benefits. The investment in the technology is now paying impressive dividends and attracting interest in collaborations to accelerate its adoption throughout cities, towns, and Scotland’s vast rural landscape.
Meanwhile new jobs and opportunities are being created across the country as businesses use digital technology to explore innovative products and processes to increase efficiency and competitiveness on a global stage.
At the centre of this technological revolution is the Scotland 5G Centre. We are a national industry body, established to promote 5G and data driven innovation across the “golden triangle” of industry, academia, and government bodies.
We work collaboratively and interactively with partners to capture opportunities and accelerate 5G data-driven innovation for operations of SMEs and across wider industry sectors.
Collaborations on early research and development projects with the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde have already created an impressive list of innovations.
Our work with academics at the University of Glasgow’s urban 5G testbed brings smart technology into the daily lives of students, staff, and business partners.
A super-immersive robotic arm responding to touch, motion and pressure has been developed further to respond to gaze. Imagine a society where physical disability is negated as you could use gaze alone to manage systems remotely.
Demonstrations of this holo- graphic telepresence and remote operation of industrial equipment at the recent Cop26 showed how these innovations, supported by 5G, can help raise productivity, minimise travel, and consequently contribute to lower carbon emissions.
So far, an investment of £1.6 million in the work at the University of Glasgow is delivering returns of £10.9m to date in further research, together with creating new businesses and jobs.
Rural Scotland accounts for 98 per cent of the land mass of Scotland with 20 per cent of the population living there.
This has traditionally made investment and infrastructure decisions difficult to justify, so we are working with the Strathclyde University and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) project “5G New Thinking” on a rural testbed to develop new operational models, such as neutral hosting and private 5G networks, to make rural connectivity more commercially viable and sustainable.
Working in Orkney, the project is finding ways of using shared spectrum to deploy 5G to support energy management, fishing, tourism as well as next generation communications to residents to sustain and support rural communities and play a key part in the levelling up agenda.
Living and working in a rural and remote location is no longer a barrier to progression. 5G technology is putting Scotland firmly on the map as an innovator and attractive to UK and international inward investment.
The Scotland 5G Centre is not only supporting new opportunities within Scotland. It is using
its expertise to develop a shared spectrum ecosystem in developing countries such as Nigeria.
Allowing a rural country with zero or poor connectivity the opportunity to have effective, cost-efficient connectivity will help to educate its children and support business opportunities.
The Scotland 5G Centre is contributing to the Scottish Government’s digital and net zero ambitions through these projects and the regional network of support through our S5GConnect Programme.
We are working with Scotland’s enterprise agencies and other innovation centres to demonstrate how 5G supports the wider digital ambition and strategy throughout Scotland.
Our geographically spread Connect hubs are important business enablers, supporting compelling use cases with private 5G testbeds and technical support.
We have engaged with over 400 businesses in the last quarter alone as the programme has allowed us to shift up a gear to accelerate the adoption of 5G.
We are leading the delivery of major opportunities involving advanced connectivity and empowering Scotland’s regions and businesses to innovate and thrive on a national and global stage.
Enabling these transformational technological advances will create a fairer and more prosperous society for all.