Updated: Jan 7, 2022
The department for Digital, Communications, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has recently launched a GBP 4 million competition to make it easier to deploy fixed and wireless networks using public assets. The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) competition – open to local authorities only – will test the latest innovations in digital asset management platforms. This article written in conjunction with Novegen explains the importance and benefits of mapping public assets digitally.
Mapping Assets can Realise Smart Place Ambitions
Mapping and documenting public assets digitally can unlock private investment in digital infrastructure supporting local authority smart place ambitions.
The telecoms sector is going through a boom phase. We are using more data than ever partly due to increased homeworking during the pandemic and partly due to our increasing appetite to consume rich media content.
This increase in the demand for high bandwidth services has spurred an investment boom in digital infrastructure by incumbent and highly capitalised new market entrants. The complexity associated with civils works when deploying digital infrastructure is forcing network operators to consider reusing existing public assets where feasible.
By enabling public assets such as CCTV and lighting columns, rooftops, ducts and building facades etc. to be reused, local authorities can realise their ‘smart place’ ambitions making it easier for operators to rollout digital infrastructure such as 5G, IoT and fibre networks. Reusing public assets can reduce operator deployment costs thereby improving the investment case.
To achieve all the above local authorities first need to understand what assets they have, their location, their condition and suitability for reuse.
Serving the Underserved
As asset owners, local authorities play a key role in ensuring network operators have open access to asset data that is up to date and available in an open and fair manner thereby facilitating investment in digital infrastructure.
Having an up-to-date register that maps and documents the condition of public assets can overcome investment barriers and simplify the planning and deployment of fixed and wireless networks for providers, see our previous article on barrier busting here.
Councils can also use their asset information to help to encourage investment in underserved areas by highlighting underserved publicly owned assets that can be used for digital infrastructure deployment. For example, up to GBP 110 million has been allocated by the Government to connect public buildings to gigabit capable broadband to stimulate investment into rural communities, read more here.
Better Outcomes for Citizens
A digitally mapped asset register can help local authorities to deliver better outcomes for citizens, businesses, and visitors to the areas.
Local authorities are under increasing pressure to adopt ‘dig once’ policies to minimise disruption often associated with ‘civils works’. Local authorities with a well mapped asset database can enable multiple utilities to coordinate civil works reducing disruption through better managed traffic flows and less road closures. In addition, the data can be exported in a standard format with all the relevant meta data and shared with project stakeholders to aid planning and decision making.
An accurate understanding of their assets also helps local authorities to manage surveys, maintenance, and repairs of ageing and legacy assets. Many local authorities rely on legacy information systems and processes to manage assets. In such scenarios information can go missing due to loss of retained knowledge with staff retiring and incomplete project documentation. It is also common for local authorities to have constructed duct infrastructure that has remained unused, and in some cases forgotten about rendering it redundant.
Services can sometime operate in silos therefore information sharing is not always straight forward and can lead to inefficiencies. Providing an integrated overview of local authority owned assets can enable information sharing between local authority service areas and can highlight opportunities for asset rationalisation, for example.
An up-to-date mapping system can also support large scale infrastructure development by allowing project participants access to real time information which can assist with planning and project investment decisions. Project stakeholders can ensure they are working to the same information.
Please contact us should you wish to learn more about anything discussed in this article.