Glasgow establishes Telecoms Unit to streamline industry access

Glasgow City Council telecoms unit

*The following Cities Today article has been reposted with the publisher's kind permission. The original article can be found here.

Glasgow City Council has launched a new Telecoms Unit that aims to attract, accelerate and facilitate private sector digital infrastructure investment in the city.

The initiative, which is described as the first of its type in Scotland, offers a single point of entry and information for telecom industry partners.

Tools available include details of relevant council assets, and data layers that can be downloaded from the asset catalogue.

The unit will also establish a transparent framework for pricing for access to council assets, streamline internal processes to ease applications from the industry for access to these assets and the deployment of infrastructure, and develop standardized legal documentation to govern such access.

“These actions will help to accelerate digital infrastructure investment in the city and ensure compliance to legislation and guidance, such as the Electronic Communications Code,” a statement from the city said.

The deployment earlier this month was highlighted in a recent update on Glasgow’s digital strategy, which launched in 2018.

Councillor Angus Millar, Chair of the Digital Glasgow Board, commented: “Now more than ever, digital connectivity is vital to supporting our economy and helping the city’s residents connect with each other and access public services. The establishment of Glasgow’s new Telecoms Unit and Portal will improve our engagement with the telecoms industry to make it easier for the city to secure investment in crucial digital infrastructure.”

Digital strategy

The Digital Glasgow Strategy outlines 73 actions to be delivered over five years. Of these, 12 are complete, 43 are in development, seven are being planned, and 11 are yet to begin.

Milestones achieved include Glasgow scaling its intelligent streetlight network to 3,500 across the city centre.

A new MyGlasgow online service provides responsive online forms for reporting issues such as stray dogs, noise and anti-social behaviour, and integrates with the MyAccount service.

The city is also trialling the NHS Near Me video conferencing service for social work services such as alcohol addictions, mental health and learning disabilities. An open innovation challenge, delivered by the Centre for Civic Innovation and the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, is working with SMEs to explore the use of digital telecare for enabling more preventative care services.

Specific actions taken by the council in response to the pandemic include the rapid scaling up of infrastructure to support homeworking; fast adoption of Microsoft Teams; the 3D printing of face visors for care staff; and the deployment of a customer relationship management (CRM) system to support the shielding operation.

Over 25,000 iPads have been delivered to Glasgow school children through the Connected Learning programme and plans for the delivery of the remaining 25,000 are being accelerated in response to COVID-19. Over 3,600 Wi-Fi hotspots have now been installed in schools, and Apple TV has been fitted in classrooms, allowing teachers and pupils to project wirelessly to digital screens.

The council’s own digital infrastructure has also been upgraded, including migration to a new data centre and the installation of 250 km of optical fibre providing gigabit connectivity to 650 council and school buildings.

Next steps

The next priorities include focusing digital investment to support economic and social recovery; improving digital skills and tackling digital exclusion; developing the city’s tech cluster; and advancing efforts around open data, data analytics and open innovation.

Millar said: “We have made great progress in delivering on our Digital Glasgow Strategy, with action and investment utilizing digital technology to improve lives and services and provide opportunities for people and businesses."

The importance of the digital agenda has been as clear as ever during the pandemic, with more Glaswegians relying on technology to work and connect, and our Digital Glasgow Strategy has enabled the city to provide a swift response to the needs of care workers and people being shielded, Millar added.

According to Millar, "the next three years of the strategy will see further progress as we work to tackle the digital divide, promote greater connectivity and support improved and more accessible public services.”