#Telecoms2020 Week – A City of York Perspective

What will Telecoms 2020 look like? A City of York Perspective

#Telecoms2020

 

City of York Council faces a challenge to exploit and further develop the world-class connectivity which is currently enjoyed in and around our historic City.

Our forward-thinking approach to York’s telecommunications has seen the development of the UK’s fastest network through the ‘UltraFibreOptic’ Sky / TalkTalk Joint Venture, which delivers astounding gigabit speeds over a pure fibre network directly to York premises.

By 2020, we will see this ultrafast network covering the entire city.

We are proud to have blanketed the City in free, superfast Wi-Fi via CityConnect (I have blogged about this previously!). In the future we wish to see this network grow even further.

We also boast free Wi-Fi on York’s buses, providing reliable connectivity on our major bus routes for commuters and visitors. Mobile usage is growing year on year – 74% of us regularly access the internet ‘on the go’. We are well aware of the trend and it is our role to support this growing preference and make access even easier.

Looking outside the City walls, our rural broadband programme will roll out superfast fibre broadband to York’s outlying, rural villages for the first time, bringing access to fibre broadband to 98% of York’s premises by 2018.

In York we are also fortunate to have providers of alternative wireless broadband technology beaming services into local villages and business parks.

So, what does all this mean for York in 2020?

Our ‘digital natives’ will demand widespread availability of connectivity in and around the City. More than three-quarters of currently us order goods online; by 2020 this figure will be even higher.

7.1 million visitors provide a huge boost to our economy every year. How can we harness our technology to raise this figure to 8 million or beyond? This is another issue the Council and our local business community must consider together, supporting one of our key aims for local economic growth.

David Cameron’s pledge of at least 10Mbps broadband for all by 2020 will provide a much-needed uplift in broadband speed. The connectivity options being installed today will ultimately make the market more competitive for the consumer; hopefully bringing affordable broadband services into play for future generations.

The Council will have to consider the impact that this has on Planning policies and our Local Plan. Wherever possible we want to see FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) as standard. There could also be potential benefits from investing in ducting to extend the reach of fibre optic technologies.

Businesses will benefit too; high-speed internet connections will make business transactions and the sharing of large files much faster and easier. More residents will be able to work from home over a stable and reliable broadband connection.

We have a series of #CodeYork clubs and events. Lindsay, who is in my team, has written an excellent blog on this programme and how to get involved! We are empowering local people of all ages with an important set of new coding skills, to meet the surge in demand to recruit talented programmers and developers. In 2020, we will have a strong talent pool available in York to support a thriving digital and creative sector, six years on from our successful UNESCO City of Media Arts bid.

We will be a people-centric digital City by 2020. We expect to take huge strides forward in terms of health and wellbeing; a real challenge for us is how to harness the potential of the connectivity in our City. Telecare and telehealth may become widespread technologies; helping local people to live more independently at home. We need to carefully consider the role that digital can play in terms of early intervention, prevention and providing the freedom of choice within social care.

York Explore’s digital inclusion programme is also helping to bridge the digital divide in York. A wide-range of digital support is provided including job hunting online, support for carers, Hackspaces, and “Minecrafter” sessions. Older people are being given the skills, access and motivation to access the internet and get more out of going online.

By 2020, new-found skills and affordable technology will have a positive impact on loneliness, whilst also providing easy-to-use telecare service options.

It’s also about the way local people will access Council services in 2020. We are increasingly moving services to digital means; saving time and money in a harsh financial climate. However, we have to consider the best approach to manage this transition and ensure that we don’t leave anyone behind in the process.

We need to deliver high-quality services online, encouraging the public to transact with the Council and providing excellent user experiences.

Tying all of this together is the opportunity to transform York into a truly smart city, utilising our connectivity and opening up useful data to citizens, such as real-time traffic management information.

York in 2020, what a brilliant place to live, work and visit, enhanced by our world-class connectivity!

 

Rob McNally

Digital City Manager

City of York Council

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