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techUK comments on Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) winner announcement

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has today announced which towns and cities are set to receive funding, as part of a £1.4 million pilot to test next-generation digital infrastructure.

Six areas from Cambridgeshire to North Ayrshire will receive funding to trial new multi-purpose street columns which will house equipment to support the rollout of advanced wireless networks like 5G or free public WiFi, boosting connectivity for people out and about in town and city centres. The aim of the trial is to demonstrate how new connected installations can help local authorities to deliver better services in their communities.

They can also be adapted to carry out a range of functions - from charging EVs to monitoring air quality, and displaying public information to saving energy with street lighting.

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

Julian David, CEO


The six authorities which will see investment through the Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP)  are:

  • Cambridgeshire County Council (£220,000)
  • Tees Valley Combined Authority (£241,500)
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames (£250,000)
  • Westminster City Council (£192,000)
  • Oxfordshire County Council (£250,000)
  • North Ayrshire Council (£242,765)

By trialling different uses across these areas, the aim is to show how wireless technology can become an integral part of UK infrastructure, connecting public services and businesses in new ways to realise the full benefits of 5G and advanced connectivity. 

The SIPP was designed to support the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which sets out the UK vision for advanced connectivity and key economic sectors that could most benefit from adoption, such as health and social care. The Strategy also recognised techUK's call for the public sector adoption to increase - across both central and local government - to help boost confidence across the economy in the take-up of advanced communications services. 

The SIPP initiative will operate at scale and be empowered to unlock opportunities tailored to specific needs and strengths, to generate value and growth at the local level - working with local industry and public services through the adoption of 5G and other advanced networking technologies. The funding is made available through the Shared Outcomes Fund which encourages collaboration between different government departments to achieve common goals - SIPP is a joint effort between DSIT and the Department for Transport. 

Launch event: Local Digital Index 2023

​On 16 October, as part of Birmingham Tech Week, techUK will be publishing the latest edition of our Local Digital Index. The Index and report will analyse the strength on the tech sector across the UK in fields such as digital skills, digital infrastructure, finance and investment and digital adoption as well as making recommendations for how the tech sector can be strengthened across the entire UK.

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