5G will help to continue the progress and development of technological innovation for Health services and Adult Social Care in parts of rural Worcestershire. The West Mercia Rural 5G project, testing and trialling the benefits of 5G in rural areas, will launch on the 1 April, following a successful bid which was led by Worcestershire County Council.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today announced the award of £3.3m to Worcestershire County Council who will be the lead partner for the project.
Other partners in the project include local NHS organisations, alongside Airband and Three – who will plan, build and operate the 5G network. Shropshire Council is also a partner in the project.
Councillor Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for economy and infrastructure, said: “Worcestershire County Council is delighted to have been successful in leading a bid which will investigate the positive impacts that emerging 5G technologies could have on rural communities, around how 5G networks can be built and their use in supporting health and social care services. The project highlights the huge joint ambitions of the innovative public and private sector partners we have drawn together, as we strive to find ways to improve connectivity and provide access to key services in rural areas.
“At a time of increasing demand for public services, improvements in connected technologies offer new ways of working that can help maintain and improve service delivery and quality of life for residents and businesses alike.”
The project will look to trial ways in which we can improve connectivity in rural areas, and then look to explore how the improved connection can be used to benefit local residents. It’s primary focus will be on trialling and developing innovative ways to deploy 5G networks in rural areas.
DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden said:“We want the UK to be a world-leader in 5G which means making sure the countryside isn’t left behind in the digital revolution. We’ve invested £3.3 million in this project to explore how we can harness the power of 5G connectivity to transform health and social care for rural communities across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.”
It is hoped that this project will help councils, CCG’s and care providers to find new cost-effective models and services for delivery, when they are dealing with an ever increasing demand.
Assistive Technology has proven extremely popular in Worcestershire, as it allows the council to easily support people to live more independent lives.
The project will also look to explore solutions to infrastructure challenges that developers currently face when planning, building and operating a rural 5G network. The University of Worcester, University Centre Shrewsbury, and West Midlands Academic Health Science Network are providing their expert support across the project.
The news was welcomed in Worcestershire with a Ministerial visit.
The Minister, Matt Warman, and guests visited the Worcester Bosch Factory on Thursday 20 February where they were met by members of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium and given a tour of the Worcester Bosch facilities to see first hand their use of 5G within their manufacturing process.
Alongside this, the Minister was hosted in the Airband offices, as they will be leading on the new project.
Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire LEP and Chair of Airband, said: “We welcome the terrific news that Worcestershire is a winner in this new round of 5G funding. The work of the Worcestershire 5G consortium has already provided exciting productivity results with the UK’s first live 5G factory trials being conducted with partners Worcester Bosch and Mazak.
5G presents a great opportunity to support health and social care services in the county and we look forward to supporting on this new project to demonstrate the benefits of 5G for local residents within rural communities.”
Worcestershire has already received national success with 5G technology as the county was one of six Government funded Phase 1 testbeds and hosted the UK’s first live 5G factory trial with manufacturing partners, Worcester Bosch and Yamazaki Mazak. The Worcestershire 5G consortium studied the impact of 5G in a landmark step towards the creation of smart factories in Britain. This was proved with results indicating a boost in productivity for manufacturing businesses utilising 5G applications.
For more information on the new fund, visit the Government website here.