West Midlands first out of the blocks for superfast 5G
From the Industrial Revolution onwards, Birmingham and the West Midlands have been at the very forefront of technological advances.
Back in the 18th Century, the likes of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch made this the Workshop of The World – a city renowned for endeavour and invention.
Fast-forward 250 years or so and we continue to be a centre for progress in areas such as advanced manufacturing, life sciences and digital innovation. This city and the wider West Midlands is home to one of the largest tech clusters in the UK with more than 40,000 people working in web development, data, e-commerce, animation and other digital industries.
So, as the West Midlands Combined Authority lead for Economic Growth, I’m excited that we have today approved plans to put the West Midlands at the very heart of the next big tech revolution – 5G.
Short for Fifth Generation Mobile Networks, 5G will be significantly faster than previous generations and is widely tipped to bring huge benefits to businesses, public services and to the wider population as a whole.
Of course, as with all new technologies, turning the clever science into practical uses is the tricky part. And that’s where we come in.
This region has been selected to become home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed in a multi-million pound project that will trial new 5G applications and services at scale.
The Urban Connected Communities Project will develop a large-scale, 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton and initial plans include:
- Hospital outpatient appointments and emergency consultations carried out remotely by video link.
- “Connected Ambulances” – Paramedic crews at an incident could access specialist advice while they are at the scene, eg video conferencing with consultants or other clinical specialists. Live streaming of patient data from ambulance en-route to hospital would help inform the immediate care patients receive on arrival.
- Live streaming of CCTV footage from public transport buses, enabling immediate action to be taken against anti-social behaviour. “Intelligent cameras” using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify incidents could provide the opportunity for far greater coverage than is possible at present.
These examples are just some of the potential uses of this exciting technology and Birmingham will be at the very heart of a 5G revolution that experts believe could dramatically transform our daily lives.
I’m sure Messrs Boulton, Watt and Murdoch would approve.