Why Digital Connectivity Matters for Councils

Why Care About Digital Connectivity?

Every council has a responsibility to improve community wellbeing & quality of life for residents. There is one ultimate prerequisite for achieving this goal – digital connectivity.

After all, the connectivity offered by telecommunications providers now underpins virtually every aspect of modern life. The status of people’s health, work productivity, leisure experiences & relationships are now all dependent upon their access to dependable digital connections.

Read on to explore how people, businesses, councils & even our democracy benefit from digital connectivity.


What is Digital Connectivity?   

Digital connectivity is an all-encompassing term, describing a way of connecting us to the internet or other people.

This connection is typically offered through 3 channels:

Fixed Broadband: Internet is delivered to a router in a set location through copper or fibre optic cabling. You can then connect your devices through Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable.

Mobile Broadband: Internet is delivered via wireless mobile networks (e.g. 4G & 5G), allowing you to stay connected while moving.

Satellite Broadband: Low earth orbit satellites can now be used to offer internet from space. This offering is beneficial for poorly connected rural areas. It will likely double your standard network costs, however!


How Does Connectivity Benefit Businesses?   

Regardless of the method of delivery, businesses need to stay connected to survive.

More than 94% of small business owners now rate a reliable fixed broadband connection as a critical asset to the success of their business. Over 81% also said that a reliable wireless mobile connection was essential for their employees to perform tasks remotely.

Payment benefits:   

This feedback isn’t surprising, with 83% of consumers now paying businesses for goods & services through digital methods like contactless.

Service delivery benefits:  

Connectivity is also crucial for service delivery use cases across various industries.

These use cases can be as rudimental as a small retailer needing to answer customer questions on social media. In contrast, they can be as complicated as a logistical firm wishing to track the fuel efficiency of its driver’s journeys.

An average business can see a rise of 3.8% in turnover per worker when connectivity allows them to carry out the service delivery they need for customers.

Not everyone benefits!   

Conversely, businesses that remain disconnected lose competitive advantage. Over 26% of companies in the UK state that they lose business due to being unable to take payments or contact customers.

Unfortunately, the disadvantages of poor connectivity have disproportionally affected rural businesses for decades, whose access to modern telecoms infrastructure tends to get delayed behind urban areas. Around 39% of small businesses in rural areas don’t have Wi-Fi speeds that meet their current needs. 57% of rural firms also stated that they experience unreliable call quality.

Resultantly, network operators & rural councils still have to work to create conditions conducive to unleashing the full potential of their local businesses.


How Does Connectivity Benefit People?   

Digital connectivity also raises the quality of life for UK residents.

Community benefits: 

Instantaneous social media messaging helps people stay in touch, even as they drift apart geographically.

Leisure benefits: 

Streaming platforms allow people to access a global range of movies, TV shows & music. Travel platforms & booking websites also help organise & enhance holidays for tourists.

Educational benefits:  

Search engine solutions empower people to learn new skills by allowing access to the most extensive library that existed – the internet.

Work-life balance benefits:  

Video calling & cloud-based collaborative platforms have also revolutionised people’s work-life balance by allowing work from home in knowledge industries. At Streetwave, for example, these platforms have allowed our staff to work from home three days a week. This change has empowered our employees to save an average of 3 hours in commuting & £45 in fuel costs per week.

Environmental benefits:   

Work from home has also allowed our employees to meet our environmental goals, with this removal of travel set to cut out over 8,606kg of CO2 emissions this year. When these benefits spread across society, they make a huge difference.

Job benefits:   

Finally, residents of the country also benefit from the job creation caused by the telecommunication sector. While the industry is responsible for 220,000 jobs & accounts for 5% of GDP in the UK, it also indirectly creates jobs in other sectors.

Councils that participate in 5G & full-fibre rollout are set to see up to a 1.7% rise in job creation through productivity increases. With 32.5 million people in the UK workforce in 2022, this could see over 500,000 new jobs created across the country for people to access, helping reduce UK poverty.

How Does Connectivity Benefit Councils?  

Economic benefits:   

Councils are also set to benefit from the connectivity improvements from 5G & full-fibre, which will add £17 billion to UK output by 2024.

These improvements are set to facilitate a 3.2% rise in business numbers in councils through lowering barriers of entry for start-ups & the attraction of digitally dependent businesses. When coupled with the 1.7% rise in jobs these technologies will bring, an average council may see 1,650 new jobs & 630 new businesses created in its borders.

These changes will generate an increase in both business rates & council tax to local authorities.

Community cohesion benefits:   

The benefits to society of digital connectivity will also help meet council objectives.

Increases in economic activity are proven to be an asset through lowering antisocial behaviour & crime. Connectivity can also drive unquantifiable benefits such as reduced levels of societal isolation in the elderly, who can access a more comprehensive communal network from home.

Service delivery benefits:   

Finally, connectivity increases can improve council service delivery. You can read more about how you can improve your council’s service delivery through digital strategy improvements here.


How Does Internet Access Benefit Democracy?   

Internet access is now necessary for living a decent life. This doesn’t mean just putting bread on the table. It also means controlling your political destiny so that you can shape your life & hold authorities to account.

The internet has magnified the ability for people to exercise political rights. We can now express ideas to millions of people, join forces with communities without ever having to meet and access new political information instantly. When people remain digitally disconnected in the 21st century, it leaves them politically disenfranchised & voiceless.

The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights supports this view. The document declares digital connectivity central to upholding fundamental human rights such as free speech, freedom of association and free information.


How Will Future Industries Depend Upon Connectivity?   

Digital connectivity is also vital in continuing to lay the foundations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

What is industry 4.0?   

Industry 4.0 is the fusion of various technologies from artificial intelligence to advanced robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). This trend is blurring the lines between the physical, digital & biological worlds.

Information silos are being lessened between companies, industries & countries. Instead, increased data collection & sharing will allow enterprises to deploy autonomous decision making to drive process improvements.

While Industry 3.0 saw the introduction of hardware systems (such as computers & telecoms networks) to control information systems, Industry 4.0 sees the reversal of this with information systems managing hardware systems.

What are the benefits of industry 4.0?  

The possibilities with this change of course are incredibly vast & constantly developing across industries. Many projects are already going through implementation.

Farmers in South Korea used ground sensor infrastructure with KPMG to monitor the fertiliser-to-soil ratio of their crops in real-time. When the sensors found the balance off, their automated system used robots to rectify the imbalance immediately. This optimisation caused a 30% increase in base crop yield.

Fleet management companies are also pairing external data sets (such as traffic information) to machine learning algorithms. These systems automatically use the data to optimise routes for their drivers in real-time. These systems avoid accidents & traffic, saving fuel & reducing unnecessary transit time.

These are just two examples out of 1,000’s of use cases that hopefully help demonstrate the relationship between artificial intelligence, data sharing, people & robotics in Industry 4.0.

Most analysts believe that the businesses adapting to Industry 4.0 will be able to deliver their offerings more cheaply, quickly & at a better quality.

Why is digital connectivity relevant?

The successful adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies rests on the foundation of high capacity, high speed & low latency digital networks.

Without these assets, Machine to Machine (M2M) & Machine to People (M2P) communication is limited.

Resultantly, those businesses with connectivity will be able to realise the benefits of Industry 4.0 & those without won’t.

Can Everyone Get Digital Connectivity?   

Quick answer – No!   

Despite the benefits digital connectivity brings across society, a sizable minority of the UK continues to live & work in coverage, not spots.

Ofcom estimates that 123,000 homes still don’t have access to a decent Wi-Fi solution faster than 10 Mbit/s in the UK. Around 10% of the population is also unable to get a consistently reliable connection from their mobile network provider.

Furthermore, Wales, Northern Ireland & Scotland are all significantly less connected than England regarding both fixed and mobile infrastructure & speeds.

How can we improve digital connectivity?

At Streetwave, we are on a mission to improve this digital divide & publicly unleash the benefits of superfast digital connectivity across the UK.

Streetwave's mapping solution empowers councils to visualise and understand mobile coverage consistently over time. When the performance of a mobile network changes, Streetwave’s programme will update, keeping your local authority up-to-speed with mobile network changes at a street level.

We support you by removing the complexity of understanding mobile network architecture and visualise what a user can do on a network at every address in your council in an easy-to-understand map.

These analytics allow you to understand service availability such as:

Can I make a phone call?
Can I browse the web?
Can I perform HD video streaming?

Do you share the same mission as us? Visit our website to organise a discovery call.

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