Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has appointed a specialist consortium to deliver an action plan detailing how to achieve Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s pledge to make the city region the most digitally connected in the UK.
The Digital Infrastructure Plan will map the city region’s existing infrastructure assets, identify opportunities to best use those assets and suggest potential operating models for the city region’s digital infrastructure. The plan will also set out specific actions to maximise the city region’s digital connectivity and drive economic growth.
Following an open tender, the contract was won by a specialist consortium formed by CBN Limited and Adroit Economics. The project will be managed by the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The tender document for the plan invited interested parties to focus on various digital plans, including:
- Review and map existing digital infrastructure assets and capability across the LCR, highlighting current strengths, gaps and opportunities directly linked to anticipated future needs for the City Region, and aligned with the 2016 LCR Growth Strategy.
- In tandem with the mapping work, detail and quantify specific potential use cases.
- Cross-reference against current/intended major government initiatives and funding opportunities, e.g. Digital Infrastructure Fund, Local Full Fibre Networks, 5G.
- Identify critical gaps in the evidence base, and fill these or help commission requisite additional work as required.
- Review the full range of potential operational and commercial revenue models, and make specific recommendations accordingly.
- Coordinate and provide lead input into LCR CA submissions for major digital connectivity funding competitions to deliver the Action Plan.
- Inform key local and external stakeholder communications, ensuring that digital opportunities and ambitions are communicated accurately and appropriately, as are responses to any associated concerns and challenges.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “We have extraordinary resources here that can put us at the forefront of the fourth Industrial Revolution.
“In Southport, the GTT transatlantic cable provides ultra-fast broadband connectivity between the UK and North America. At the Hartree Centre in Daresbury we have one of the most sophisticated super computers dedicated to research and development in the world, as well as IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform. And we are working to harness the power of the River Mersey to create predictable, plentiful, sustainable energy.
“My vision is to link these incredible resources together to connect every business, school, university, hospital and home in our area, with the best connectivity speeds in the whole country.
“It is vital that we get this right which is why we needed to go out and find experienced specialists in the field of digital infrastructure deployment.
“This Digital Infrastructure Action Plan will provide clear recommendations for how we can make our vision a reality, modernising our economy, and driving innovation in areas like health and social care, enabling us to build a healthy and prosperous future for our people and the region as a whole.”
The news comes after a report by the influential Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) stated that digital infrastructure in the North of England must improve if it is to unlock economic potential.
Most major northern cities are well connected but rural areas are “left behind” which is damaging to an economy that is “more diverse and dynamic than is often proposed”, IPPR’s State of the North report highlighted.
Improving connectivity in order to fulfil economic potential is particularly important in the wake of Brexit, the report emphasised, as the north’s economy is more dependent on EU markets than the rest of the UK.
The report, State of the North: The Millennial Powerhouse, made recommendations on how “millenials” and “Generation Z” can “unlock northern potential” more effectively than previous generations.