Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
A digital fabric for the next generation of public services
7 July 2021
Before the pandemic, local authorities and businesses were already coming together to explore the use of technology in connecting people, supporting businesses, and bonding communities. But the realities of having to respond and adapt to Covid-19 has seen digital adoption accelerate at a rate of knots.
We’ve seen some fantastic examples. The healthcare sector particularly has had to transform, deploying technology to help ease patient distress. For instance, Kings College London has partnered with Guys and St Thomas Hospital and BT to bring the Lifelines solution to ICU wards, helping distressed patients connect with family and friends through a securely managed 4G enabled tablet.
We’ve also seen local authorities deliver digital ways of learning to better reach and engage students, like North Lanarkshire Council which trialled a 5G immersive classroom experience to help students who had been disrupted by Covid-19 school closures.
But to deliver the transformation of industries on a massive scale, we need to create what we call a ‘digital fabric’. In other words, an underlying foundation which will enable the next generation of digital services. The basis of this new digital fabric is converged connectivity – across both fixed and mobile – supporting an overlay of devices, data, skills and applications. This digital fabric will ultimately deliver better social and economic outcomes, such as inclusive growth, more productivity and driving a green recovery, while opening up better access to health and wellbeing services.
As a critical national enabler, BT is working with several organisations to accelerate digital transformation in their regions for a post Covid-19 recovery. A powerful illustration is BT’s work with University of Stirling to launch a world-leading “living laboratory” for central Scotland. The laboratory is a state-of-the-art environmental monitoring system and is the first of its kind in the UK to help businesses in the region make intelligent and data driven business decisions. It will have access to BT’s award winning 5G network and will work by capturing, processing and sharing data from across Forth Valley using EE5G. Using sensors, satellite data and AI, the laboratory will provide vital information on water quality to inform decisions that could help provide major economic and sustainability efforts to that area.
It’s these examples that reinforce the impact that technology can have on people’s home and work lives – particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic. Technology is, after all, a powerful enabler. But as places become better connected, people must have the skills and confidence to use digital technology to its full value, which also helps reduce the widening of the digital divide. Organisations therefore need to work with partners who can help deliver the training needed to boost a community’s digital skills.
The BT Skills for Tomorrow programme seeks to give millions of people the skills they need to flourish in the digital future. We’ve already reached our original goal of helping 10 million people across the UK with digital skills, five years ahead of schedule, and we’ve set a new target to reach 25 million people by the end of March 2026.
Ultimately, digital transformation is key to revitalising communities feeling the impacts of the pandemic, and local authorities when joined by key partners who align to their goals can greatly accelerate this. We’ve already seen the data; digital investment could boost the UK economy by £230bn over the next 20 years. But first we need to create digital fabric, the result of shared visions and collaboration that ensures a wide breadth of expertise and technology know-how. Strong partnerships ensure projects keep moving forward, overcoming obstacles as they appear and engaging with every stakeholder. They are key to connecting for good and unlocking the evolution of public services. Find out more about BT’s digital fabric by visiting the website.
Become a member
Our members include over 200 of the capital’s leading employers across a wide range of sectors, with a common commitment to our capital.