Swansea’s vision to become a super-connected ‘smart city’ is picking up pace, thanks to a multi-million pound funding boost.
The UK Government and Welsh Government approval of the £55 million Swansea Bay City Deal digital infrastructure programme means Swansea can further build on significant connectivity improvements in recent years.
City Deal investment will help Swansea Council introduce full-fibre connectivity in business parks and areas of the city centre.
This will help businesses make the most of latest digital technologies, while helping mobile users stream content and access information quicker.
A long-range, open access wireless network will also help make the most of the ‘Internet of Things’ by connecting technology such as sensors to the internet, which will enable better decisions and improved efficiencies.
This could accelerate the use of sensor technology in Swansea to improve traffic flows, monitor when bins need emptying or highlight when elderly or vulnerable people need help at home.
Swansea Council could also use City Deal funding to boost the take-up of broadband voucher schemes in rural communities which would give households and businesses there better internet connection.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Approval of the City Deal’s digital infrastructure programme is even more progress for our world class digital connectivity plans in Swansea.
“It means we can further expand our full-fibre plans in the city centre, benefiting our businesses and residents and helping attract more inward investment and high-quality jobs in future. This could include big data centres.
“This major programme approval will also help further support Swansea’s vision to become a ‘smart city’ where technologies like sensors are used to collect data and enable better decision-making in sectors including assisted living, healthcare, traffic management and waste management for the benefit of businesses, residents and community groups.
“But as well as the city centre, it’s vitally important that no community in Swansea – including our rural communities – is left behind. That’s why work is planned to encourage even more take-up of broadband voucher schemes.
“Advanced digital connectivity is key to help support our on-going £1 billion transformation of Swansea into one of the UK’s most vibrant places to live, work, visit and study.”
State-of-the-art digital connectivity will also feature as part of the council’s Copr Bay phase one development. This will provide latest generation, free-to-use Wi-Fi in its public open areas.
A network of BT InLink kiosks has already been introduced in the city centre, which provide free public Wi-Fi and a range of other digital services. These kiosks will be retained in the longer-term as they also give people who don’t have mobile phones the opportunity to make calls.
An investment of up to £1.3 billion in nine programmes and projects in the Swansea Bay City Region, the Swansea Bay City Deal is worth over 9,000 jobs and at least £1.8 billion to the regional economy in coming years.
Funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector, the Swansea Bay City Deal is being led by Carmarthenshire County Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, in partnership with Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea Bay University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board.