5G in Scotland: ‘rich potential’ for economy, environment

5g in scotland
© iStock/bkindler

The Scottish government has developed a blueprint for the rollout of 5G in Scotland, increasing the country’s GDP by a potential £17bn (€18.4bn) by 2035.

The ‘Forging our Digital Future with 5G’ report details current and future strategy for implementing 5G in Scotland. The government has declared its intention to work in partnership with industry bodies, regulators and the public sector to ensure 5G connectivity can benefit residents across Scotland, with particular reference to ensuring connectivity in rural areas. Scotland-wide deployment of 5G is projected to create around 160,000 jobs and 3,100 new businesses.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our 5G plan sets out the actions we believe are needed to ensure as much of Scotland as possible shares in the vast potential growth on offer. Our aspiration is to position Scotland as a 5G leader and a forward-looking digital nation. 5G offers rich potential [and] opportunities to enhance Scotland’s global competitiveness, achieve economic growth and drive innovation across our public and private sectors. There are huge potential gains for the public sector if we embrace technologies such as 5G. We believe this will be a catalyst for further public sector transformation, enabling high quality, user-focused and efficient services that are driven by data.”

The blueprint details a range of potential uses for 5G in Scotland, including:

  • Using connected sensors to monitor patient health in real time, reducing the need for in-person hospital and GP appointments;
  • Gathering data on river levels using 5G sensors, in order to produce localised flood warnings;
  • Providing immersive content at tourist destinations;
  • Monitoring crops and livestock through tracking and video analysis; and
  • Deploying automated and connected traffic management services to reduce congestion and boost road safety.

Professor Chris Pearce, Dean of Research in the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: “5G is a next generation network technology which is faster [and] has the potential to revolutionise digital communications and create real social impact in Scotland; from public health to the environment. Our researchers, led by Professor Muhammad Imran at the University of Glasgow, are developing 5G technologies to facilitate remote health monitoring without invasive measurements and without the need for wearable sensors. They are also working to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions of cellular networks and are developing low cost pop-up networks. These can be deployed quickly and efficiently during large sporting events or disaster scenarios to bring temporary connectivity to the area, strengthening Scotland’s resilience capacity.”

Andrew McRae, Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said: “Scotland needs to be in the digital fast lane because the next generation of mobile technologies have the potential to boost growth and drive innovation. Three quarters of Scottish businesses say that digital technologies are important to their plans for future growth. But to deliver on this ambition, firms need access to the right skills and high quality digital infrastructure. For this reason, decision makers in Scotland need to do everything they can to ensure Scotland is at the forefront of the 5G revolution. This new 5G strategy is a step in the right direction.”


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