Peterborough’s digital revolution continues apace, after the completion of a two-year project to extend gigabit-speed internet across the city.
The project began in 2013 when the council signed a deal with CityFibre to install the gigabit network across the city to hook up council premises and businesses as part of the Digital City Peterborough initiative.
To date, 107 council buildings have already been hooked up to the network, but the infrastructure is now available to businesses, which the council hopes will help local companies thrive and attract new investment.
Richard Godfrey, assistant director for Digital Peterborough at Peterborough City Council, told V3 that providing high-speed infrastructure will let existing and new businesses benefit from being in the city.
“It’s all about making Peterborough a sustainable city for the future and that means supporting the businesses that are here now and encouraging others to set up here too,” he said.
Godfrey added that a solid digital infrastructure in the city will allow young people with digital skills and ambitions to find a place for their talent, whether that’s setting up their own firm or joining an existing company.
“We want to make sure we don’t have a talent drain as young people with skills feel they have to leave the city. We want them to be able to succeed right here on their doorstep,” he said.
Peterborough has plans to extend this by creating a mentoring programme to ensure young people with ideas are given the support they need to turn their ideas into real business ventures.
One business that has already set up shop in Peterborough is comparethemarket.com, part of BGL Group. Alex Shaw, head of labs at the firm, said that the city is becoming a major tech hotspot.
“Founding our technology capability in Peterborough has allowed us to seize the unprecedented benefits the city offers, such as digital capabilities and tech talent.”
The completion of the digital network is just one of several notable digital initiatives that Peterborough has pursued over the past few years.
One high-profile project has been the use of an Internet of Things healthcare service from Alcove to ease the burden on health services.
This has involved testing the deployment of a mix of sensors, tablets, smartwatches and RFID technology to create a network in the homes of 100 people who require care, such as the elderly or disabled. The Alcove platform won the Best Internet of Things project at the V3 Technology Awards 2015.
The firm is also using a digital libraries service called Biblioteca to enable self-service library access and book loans, and increase availability across four sites in the city.
These efforts saw Peterborough recently awarded Smart City of the Year at the World Smart City Congress, beating off competition from the likes of Moscow and Dubai, underlining the city’s credentials in this space.
Godfrey told V3 that the hope next year is to host a digital festival in the city to showcase the efforts being made to turn Peterborough into a city of the future.
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