Sunderland City Council has awarded a 20-year strategic partnership to BAI Communications to design, build and operate next generation digital infrastructure including a private 5G small cell network. The project is the next step on Sunderland City Council’s journey to achieve its global smart city ambition, having been awarded the UK Smart City of the Year 2020 accolade and Connected Britain Digital Council of the Year 2021.
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. The new high speed 5G coverage will provide a platform for business growth and innovation, supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda by bringing substantial social and economic benefits to its residents, businesses and visitors, including the creation of over 100 jobs.
Through the partnership, supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and HM Government’s Getting Building Fund, Sunderland will be able to scale its advanced smart city plan, allowing the city to be at the forefront of innovation and achieve true global competitiveness. Greater high speed 5G mobile connectivity, which offers much faster response times across the network, will be complemented by other networking technologies to enable Sunderland to deliver transformative digital services for communities and sectors across the City at much greater scale, including:
The project will increase supply chain agility through further development of self-driving vehicle trials, which includes the use of autonomous heavy goods vehicles for transfer of goods between the Nissan supply chain and the Sunderland Nissan car manufacturing plant.
Better connectivity will also support online and remote learning across Sunderland’s schools. And the greater reach and capacity of the new connectivity will enable existing deployment of assistive technologies, using sensors in the homes of vulnerable people to monitor their status, to scale significantly.
“This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City,” said Sunderland City Council Chief Executive, Patrick Melia. “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.”