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Capitalising on Birmingham’s Digital Potential

Grand Central

Birmingham’s digital potential was under discussion at the WiredScore Birmingham Launch recently, where a panel of experts from the property and technology sectors covered how the second city can capitalise on new digital technology to unlock its potential and future-proof assets.

With Birmingham announced as the testbed location for the new 5G network, many businesses are looking at harnessing the mobile network in tandem with other technological developments to help deliver a more streamlined service and reduce common challenges.

A huge amount of time is spent by companies thinking about connectivity. Common challenges include finding a reliable signal in a world where smartphones reign, particularly for certain sectors that are generally slower to adopt new tech.

WiredScore walked through a recent survey that showed the main criteria for businesses choosing office space was the quality of the internet connection (97%), making connectivity a bigger issue than both price (94%) and location (92%).

Furthermore, 61% of respondents experience connectivity problems monthly and 60% believe the main negative impact of an internet outage is the decrease in productivity.

David Tonks, International Partner for Cushman & Wakefield, directed his speech to the notion that while many sectors are slow on the uptake, the property sector being one of them is a misconception:

“Technology is a key driver… we have marketing companies using VR (virtual reality) as well as tech being used for communication, design, production and even robotics”. 

This was followed by Hugo Russell (Serendip Programme Manager, Innovation Birmingham Ltd) who acknowledged that while it’s difficult to tell exactly how much of an impact 5G would have, it’s vital for certain sectors and SMEs to have awareness, honesty and flexibility so that they can feel the full impact. Simply put, ‘SMEs need to learn to calibrate or be left behind’.

WiredScore panel

Generally, the attitude to Birmingham trialling 5G is as positive as you’d expect, particularly from the tech sector. As a big leap in technological progression, 5G will enable Birmingham to ‘soar past other cities’ and while it’ll be more appealing for certain job sectors over others, it’ll set an example to follow.

Combined with the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the 5G network will put Birmingham even more firmly in the spotlight and help deliver a more connected event with fewer limitations.

Future Tech

The WiredScore panel also offered an insight into technology on the horizon, looking at how everyday sources can be adapted to increase connectivity.

Wired Certification was discussed which helps empower landlords to understand and promote their property’s digital infrastructure while also supporting communication with tenants. WiredScore has expanded into Birmingham, with 1 Colmore Square and The Colmore Building some of the first adopters of the certification.

PureLiFi was the headline attraction, a concept designed around harnessing light to transmit data. Using light beams to send wireless data, specific ‘LiFi’ enabled devices wouold convert the light into an electrical signal and also send data back, creating a bi-directional network.

In theory, PureLiFi could turn every light source into a connection point for the internet, allowing for vastly increased coverage and ‘powering our growing demand for connectivity’.

For somewhere like Birmingham, which sits alongside others at the forefront of technology but also has a strong industrial presence, LiFi represents an opportunity to push and adapt to new, innovative tech. PureLiFi has incredible potential for industrial applications, helping drive connectivity and savings using smart wireless sensors.

The WiredScore Birmingham Launch: Building for Birmingham’s Digital Future panel discussion was hosted by WiredScore at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and featured the following panellists:

Tim Kay – Head of Technology and Media (KPMG)

David Maclean – Chair (WMCA Digital Board) & CEO (Packt)

David Tonks – International Partner (Cushman & Wakefield)

Cassandra Wheeldon – Director of Partnerships (WiredScore)

Hugo Russell – Serendip Programme Manager (Innovation Birmingham)

 

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