Rich data about our roads and roadscape will play a vital role in boosting the UK’s digital infrastructure as we ‘build back’ from the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaist’s Ian Job said this week.
Fast broadband across the UK is a key focus of the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda as it seeks to close the productivity gap between London and other parts of the country and help Britain to stay competitive on the world-stage. It has committed to roll out ‘gigabit broadband’ – download speeds of 1 gigabit per second – nationwide by 2025.
As part of his “build back better” agenda, Boris Johnson has now pledged to move with “(new) levels of energy and speed” to tackle problems such as lagging broadband speed. In his Budget statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government would make funding available to help the roll-out across the UK of gigabit broadband.
But barriers and challenges to rapid roll-out persist. These include a lack of reliable, accessible information about existing buried infrastructure and issues around planning regulations and streetworks.
Speaking at a virtual conference held by INCA, the trade body for independent network providers, Ian explained that leveraging high-definition, fresh, accurate data about the road and roadscape would play a key role in helping to meet some of these challenges and boosting Britain’s connectivity at the pace required to meet demand.
A digital twin of the network, he said, enables effective and efficient planning, designing and budgeting of roll-out, upgrade and maintenance projects in the utilities and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) sector.
A detailed knowledge of the working environment – including the surface type, dimensions, existing infrastructure – also reduces disruptions and ensures a reliable, assured source of information to inform decision making at the scope / specification stages of a scheme, he said.
Data interrogated from the desktop – rather than captured in site surveys – will also play a key role, Ian said, in facilitating remote working and collaboration to enable compliance with the restrictions in place due to the pandemic.
Ian said: “Gaist’s data and supporting imagery can play an important role in reducing costs and speeding up the roll-out process. It also facilitates remote working and virtual walkthroughs which is another key advantage during restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic.”
Fibre to the home (FTTH) – using fibre cables all the way from the exchange to people’s homes – can deliver download speeds of 1 gigabit per second – the equivalent of downloading an HD film in less than two minutes. It is, however, only available to 7 per cent of UK properties, compared to 80 per cent in parts of the continent.