In the Budget this month the government recognised the importance of becoming technology-friendly with the launch of an exciting new Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy. Previous to George Osborne’s final Budget of the term, Gartner reported that our public sector has been slow to keep up with advances.
The new strategy is committed to remove barriers to investment and to cut red tape surrounding the industry. There was an emphasis on empowering local authorities to make decisions and for allowing organisations such as universities and businesses to collaborate. The renewed emphasis on technology might just enable Britain to become a major game-player as innovative technology continues to evolve at ever-increasing speeds.
The government has promised to set aside £100m to go towards intelligent mobility, with a focus on driverless cars – having set out a code of practice to allow testing on the roads earlier this year.
The initiatives also encourage research into new networking technologies including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). £40m will be set aside for demonstration programmes, incubators and research hubs to encourage IoT apps for health, social care and (ambitiously) smart cities. A ‘Smart City’ demonstrator could showcase developments in the near future if further fundraising is successful. The future of the IoT will be dependent on the success of 5G, and encouragingly, the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey has already achieved a connection speed of 1 terabit per second (1Tbps) in tests.
There will be increased support for start-ups, and for northern cities in particular. The government will be investing £11m in businesses across the north, creating tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. These are intended to nurture startups, foster collaboration, and provide support.
Shortly following these announcements at the Budget, Ordnance Survey released a new ‘smart’ mapping tool that can alert you to real-time events, as well as business rates and local crime statistics. In many ways, the ‘smart city’ of data sharing is already here.
There are also changes afoot for the taxpayer, thanks to the digitalisation of services. At the 2015 Budget it was also announced that the tax system will be transformed with the introduction of digital tax accounts, which will remove the need for annual tax returns and allow both individuals and small businesses to manage their own tax affairs online.
It is hoped that these innovations, amongst others, will both create jobs and support economic growth.