Sunderland sets goal to be UK’s leading smart city
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
A view of the River Wear in Sunderland The 20-year partnership between BAI and Sunderland City Council will enhance 5G speeds along the River Wear (credit: geograph/Malc McDonald)

Sunderland City Council has teamed up with BAI Communications in a bid to achieve its ambitious goal to become “the UK’s most advanced smart city”.

BAI, which earlier this month announced a £1bn communications partnership with Transport for London, has said it will build a new private 5G small cell network to “accelerate adoption of transformative digital services for sectors including manufacturing and logistics, education and social care” as part of a 20-year strategic partnership with the council.

According to the duo, the first phase of the partnership will see a “backbone of 5G connectivity” based on a neutral host model established within the city by summer 2022.

That phase will form the next step on Sunderland City Council’s journey to achieve its smart city ambition, having been awarded the title of UK Smart City of the Year 2020.

Alongside an increase in 5G speeds across the city the partnership, which is supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and HM Government’s Getting Building Fund, has pledged to deliver digital upgrades within the manufacturing and social care sectors. This will include the use of autonomous heavy goods vehicles for transfer of goods between the international Nissan supply chain and the Nissan car manufacturing plant in Sunderland as well as installing sensors in the homes of vulnerable people to support independent living.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City. We are very much looking forward to our 20-year strategic partnership with BAI, as its team helps us realise our ambitions and make our goals a reality. We are confident the benefits of this partnership will reach every resident, organisation and business within our city and indeed the wider area.”

BAI claims that the neutral host network being delivered will be available for use by all mobile operators, as well as being 5G ready and builds on similar networks in London, New York, Toronto and Hong Kong.

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, added: “Our long-term strategic partnership with Sunderland City Council will completely transform the city, accelerating Sunderland’s ambitions to become one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities, connecting people, communities and businesses. We will leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to establish a network of connectivity which will enhance employment opportunities, business efficiency and growth, helping to secure its prosperous future.”

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