Digital connectivity has never been so important for businesses, communities and public services in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Reliance on connectivity accelerated during the Covid pandemic, highlighting the need for businesses to make the most of digital technology and wider digital inclusion so that more people can access healthcare, education and jobs.
The Combined Authority is responding to these challenges by setting out a new Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Strategy for the next four years to ensure Cambridgeshire & Peterborough has the leading-edge digital connectivity infrastructure needed for local businesses to thrive and that no communities are left behind.
The new infrastructure strategy for 2021-2025, which was approved by the Housing and Communities Committee on 3 November, focusses on delivering next generation broadband connectivity and mobile coverage, using ‘Smart’ technologies to improve the environment, and extending free public access Wifi, while supporting digital inclusion.
It builds upon the ongoing work of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, hosted by Cambridgeshire County Council and led by the Combined Authority, which has established a national reputation for collaborative working at the forefront of innovation, attracting public and private sector funding to invest in future-facing digital infrastructure.
The strategy sets new, challenging targets for the different aspects of digital connectivity and advanced technology, so that:
- All businesses can access the leading-edge digital connectivity they need to help them grow and succeed in a strong and sustainable local economy
- Communities are digitally connected allowing residents to access education, jobs, health, social care and other public services, wherever they live
- Digital connectivity supports home working and remote training contributing to reduced commuting, less traffic congestion and more flexible and inclusive job opportunities
- ‘Smart’ technology – including ‘Internet of Things’ based connectivity – is used to provide access to real-time transport information for journey planning, and environmental monitoring, such as flooding sensors.
The Combined Authority also has ambitious targets to address the digital divide by levelling up access and reducing inequality in health and access to education, jobs and public services, including improving connectivity for social housing residents. Recent research by Lloyds Bank, shows that manual workers with high digital engagement, earn £421 more per month than less digitally engaged people in the same roles.
Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, said: “Digital connectivity is hugely important for meeting some of the key challenges we face – from sustainable growth to climate change mitigation and the management of scarce resources including water and energy.
“Reliance on connectivity accelerated in an unprecedented manner during the Covid pandemic and is still incredibly important as we move towards recovery. However, at a time when access to healthcare, education and jobs has become increasingly dependent on digital connectivity it has also highlighted inequality of access and the need for us to show compassion by supporting digital inclusion.
“This updated digital infrastructure strategy builds on the past success of our collaborative work with local councils, government and commercial providers, and sets new challenging targets to help ensure that we remain at the leading edge and well positioned to take full advantage of current and emerging technology advances.
“I want Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to have a future-facing digital connectivity infrastructure that reflects the ambitions and aspirations of our area, shaped by our core values of compassion, co-operation, community, and tackling climate change.”
Everything that was discussed at the meeting including the updated Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Strategy 2021-2025 can be found on the Combined Authority’s Housing and Communities Committee page and there is a direct link to the Strategy on our Resources page.