Huge hi-tech project to make Sunderland a leading UK 'smart city', bringing 100 jobs
A 20-year plan to turn Sunderland into a world digital leader was unveiled today – and it means more than 100 jobs for the city.
The plans will see Sunderland lead the way on 5G digital technology and leading dignitaries have described it as an ‘an incredibly significant milestone’ for Wearside.
Sunderland City Council has awarded a 20-year strategic partnership to BAI Communications to design, build and operate next generation digital infrastructure.
New high speed 5G coverage will be on the way by next summer and it will provide a platform for businesses to grow and innovate. The aim is to bring social and economic benefits to the people of Wearside as well as visitors – creating more than 100 jobs along the way.
Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is an incredibly significant milestone in the development and future of Sunderland Our Smart City.
"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.”
The 5G mobile connectivity offers much faster response times across the network and will be complemented by other networking technologies so that Sunderland can bring in ‘transformative’ digital services.
These will incude;
l 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.
l Better connectivity to support online and remote learning across Sunderland’s schools, following on from the success at Hudson Road Primary School, ensuring young people have the digital skills they need to enter the future workforce.
l More help in the social care sector including sensors in the homes of vulnerable people to support independent living.
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said: “Our long-term strategic partnership with Sunderland City Council will completely transform the city, accelerating Sunderland’s ambitions to become one of the UK’s most advanced smart cities, connecting people, communities and businesses.”
Better job opportunities, business efficiency and growth will also be on the way and Mr D’Arcy said it would help Sunderland to “secure its prosperous future.”
He added: “Our extensive credentials delivering large-scale connected infrastructure and networking solutions position us perfectly to capitalise on the fast-growing commercial appeal of 5G enterprise solutions and smart city applications.”
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.
Officials said that, through the partnership, which is 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.