Smart street lamps to be trialled in Oxfordshire thanks to £250,000 boost to increase local connectivity

Oxfordshire County Council wins funding to test smart street posts that can house electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs, boost wireless coverage, including 5G, and more

Multi-purpose street columns that can charge electric vehicles and boost wireless coverage will be trialled in Oxfordshire, after Oxfordshire County Council was awarded £250,000 to test the latest digital technology.

The rising demand for next-generation wireless service is leading to the exploration of opportunities to install smart infrastructure on lamp posts, traffic lights, CCTV columns, benches, bins and bus stops.

That is why six local authorities – including Oxfordshire County Council – will receive funding to trial new multi-purpose street columns which will house equipment to support the rollout of advanced wireless networks like 5G or free public WiFi.

The columns can be adapted to carry out a range of functions – from charging EVs, monitoring air quality and displaying public information to saving energy with street lighting. This builds on Oxfordshire County Council’s existing project to replace existing halogen bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs.

The money is coming from the government’s Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme (SIPP) and the amount awarded will be matched by supplier contributions and savings from the council’s digital infrastructure fund to create a total investment of £500,000.

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I am delighted with our success in this funding competition. It will help us in building and delivering our strategy for improving digital connectivity.

“This includes EV charging access, improving street-level mobile connectivity and creating a network of ‘Internet of Things’ devices measuring aspects such as air quality monitoring.”

The pilot will demonstrate how new connected installations can help local authorities to deliver better services in their communities.

Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “The way we stay in touch, access information and do business is underpinned by digital connectivity – and a world-class wireless infrastructure will be the foundation for the jobs, skills, and services of the future.

“We want to ensure that towns and cities across the UK are right at the forefront of this connectivity revolution, ready to seize the opportunities it will bring for local communities, which is exactly what these pilots are about.

 “They will help demonstrate how advanced wireless technology can enable areas to innovate and deliver better public services, from rolling out electric vehicle chargers to boosting business growth and helping keep our streets safe.”

The SIPP is designed to support the government’s wireless infrastructure strategy, which sets out how the UK will put wireless connectivity at the heart of new and existing infrastructure, while driving private investment, boosting innovation and unlocking new opportunities for economic growth.

The pilot programmes will begin from October 2023 and will run until 31 March 2025.

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