by Leigh Hunt, CityFibre’s City Manager for Coventry
Too much ‘screen time’, ‘digital overload’, concerns about social media… There has been a lot of noise in the media surrounding the negative impacts of being online 24/7 which means the huge benefits that increased digital connectivity brings to enhance our lives can often be overlooked. The Internet has undoubtedly transformed how we live and, when put to its best uses, online access and other connected platforms can have an immensely positive impact on the world around us.
At CityFibre, we believe that fast, reliable broadband access can unlock new possibilities and opportunities for people in both their homes and working lives. It can also have a positive effect on our health and general wellbeing, while at the same time bring us closer together as a community.
In our homes, it can help us connect more closely with family and friends, whether by sharing pictures on special occasions, enjoying crystal-clear video catch-ups with distant loved ones, or setting up regular check-ins through a digital assistant. While nothing will ever replace personal contact, being able to see and hear each other as if you were together can be the next best thing.
Digital connectivity can also enhance family time by making it possible to enjoy cinema-like experiences from the living room. Next-generation full fibre connectivity has the capability of delivering buffer-free Ultra HD streaming – exactly what you need to enjoy the latest blockbuster together. And, even if you can’t agree on what to watch (or yet another night of football is causing arguments) you’ll at least have the streaming capacity to enjoy your choice of programme on another device!
For many people today, flexible, remote or home working is a growing priority. In a gigabit-speed connected world, these options become more abundant than ever with fast and reliable cloud access. As well as helping many people achieve a better work-life balance, homeworking can improve equality of access to the job market for more people, and even decrease stress and improve productivity.
If you value ‘mindfulness’ and ‘wellness,’ then by using digital tools to access apps, podcasts and more, you can gain access to a world of expert advice to help nurture your physical and mental wellbeing in your own home. But, digital connectivity can go even further by underpinning innovations in public health. In Coventry, for example, full fibre technology connects over 400 public service sites including GP surgeries and schools, providing an essential foundation for e-health innovation and digital learning tools.
In fact, Coventry CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) was one of the first in the country to work with CityFibre and the systems integrator, Pinacl Solutions, to connect its health and care estate, underpinning potential future investments in areas such as digital health records, telehealth and virtual appointments. 65 GP practices are now connected, including Foleshill Surgery, Park Leys Medical Practice and Walsgrave Health Centre. By creating this truly connected digital community, patients will be able to enjoy the comfort of their own homes for longer without the need to go into care.
Digital connectivity also enables smart city initiatives, which aim to improve quality of life through data analytics, artificial intelligence and connected services. For example, smart traffic systems can help make roads safer, improve public transport and reduce traffic by monitoring commuter habits and using data to define solutions. Connected street lighting can help save energy costs and ensure communities feel safe, while whole environments can be monitored to solve problems such as excessive pollution or security issues, as well as repair and maintenance needs.
Currently, just 7% of the UK currently has access to full fibre – and Coventry is amongst the first cities to benefit from a city-wide roll out of this next-generation digital infrastructure.
Over the next few years, in partnership with Vodafone, CityFibre’s £60m private investment will bring reliable, high-capacity, gigabit-capable broadband services within reach of almost every home and business in the city, transforming its digital capabilities and making it one of the best-connected locations on the planet. The first customers are already connected to Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband service, and more areas of Coventry are being lit up every day.
As Coventry & Warwickshire celebrates a Year of Wellbeing, it’s important to take stock of the city’s digital connectivity journey and the benefits we can now enjoy, as well as look to what the future may bring as the network extends citywide. CityFibre’s next-generation digital infrastructure is already bringing about a multitude of benefits to the residents of Coventry, and we hope that it will play a part in supporting the wellbeing of the city long into the future.
For more information about CityFibre’s project in Coventry, visit: cityfibre.com/coventry.
To find out more about Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband services and to register your interest, go to: vodafone.co.uk/gigafast.