Liverpool’s Sensor City has been awarded £3.5 million in government funding to explore the potential applications of 5G community Wi-Fi in health and social care.
The technical innovation centre and University Enterprise Zone fosters the creation, development, production and promotion of cutting-edge sensor technologies for use in a wide range of sectors. Its mission is to make Liverpool a global hub for sensor technologies.
• For a profile, interview, and case studies, please go to our in-depth report on Sensor City.
After Sensor City’s early successes with startups such as Aqua Running, Chanua Health, and CNC Robotics, among others, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has awarded the centre one of only six grants as part of the 5G Testbeds and Trials programme.
The aim of the nationwide initiative is to make the UK a world leader in 5G technology. Sensor City‘s role in this will be to investigate potential uses for 5G community Wi-Fi in the realms of health and social care.
A consortium made up of public sector health suppliers, the NHS, university researchers, local SMEs, and a UK 5G technology vendor will use the funding to deploy technologies such as low-cost 5G networks, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) across deprived communities in Liverpool.
Crossing the digital divide
Sensor City and its fellow stakeholders hope to apply these technologies to reduce the digital divide in health and social care.
Patient monitoring and support, loneliness in older adults, and independent living aids are all areas that will be targeted with the funding, encouraging the development of stronger relationships between healthcare providers and the communities they serve.
The University of Liverpool’s academic lead for Sensor City, Professor Joe Spencer, hopes that technology trialled in Liverpool could eventually be rolled out across the UK.
“A successful demonstration of a 5G testbed in health and social care will see the development of new, innovative, and disruptive technologies that will help to bridge the digital divide in the UK, especially in deprived communities,” he said.
“5G Wi-Fi will not only enable the development of new cost-effective products and services to address real needs and demand, but also bring huge social and economic benefits for the most vulnerable in society, while reducing the demand on hospital-based services.”
Alison Mitchell, executive director at Sensor City, reiterated her belief that the consortium could have a transformative impact on lives in Liverpool and beyond. “Sensor City is proud to lead on what is set to be a truly groundbreaking project with a consortium of like-minded partners,” she said.
“The government’s 5G strategy for the UK presents a fantastic opportunity to transform the lives of many, especially through health and social care. So I think I speak for all partners when I say we’re excited to see this work unfold over the next five years.”
In the wide-ranging interview with Internet of Business earlier this month, Mitchell set out her vision for how the centre will be an expanding showcase of the IoT’s ability to help regenerate cities and businesses.
Internet of Business says
As we said in our recent in-depth profile of Alison Mitchell, Sensor City, and the startups the facility has supported, the centre’s track record in innovation speaks for itself. We again commend it for developing and sustaining new ideas, skills, and partnerships across industry and education – and congratulate it for this latest success.
The organisation has also benefited from direct financial support from the European Union Regional Development Fund. We trust that the UK government will ensure that there is no net loss of financial support for Sensor City’s work after Brexit.
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