Digital connectivity plays a key role in both improving productivity and addressing environmental challenges. The impact of Covid-19 has demonstrated the absolute necessity to have reliable, resilient and up-to-date digital infrastructure to support economic activity and provide community services. The infrastructure and ability to exploit its potential are essential to enable inclusive growth and prosperity and realise the vision for clean economic growth.
- Superfast: current coverage in Dorset is: 96% (nationally 97.2%). At the conclusion of the Superfast Dorset contract with Openreach at the end of 2021 we expect this to have risen by an additional 1.2% - this still leaves many thousands of homes and businesses with poor, unreliable broadband
- Gigabit capable networks (usually described as full fibre) are the next generation of connectivity. Dorset's current gigabit coverage is 6.6%, compared with a national figure of 36.5%
- Mobile coverage in Dorset is poor, only 42.6% of A and B roads in Dorset have what Ofcom deem to be an acceptable signal on all the 2G mobile networks. Less than 66% of premises in Dorset have 4G coverage from all four mobile operators
Dorset needs good connectivity to attract entrepreneurial talent looking to move from the south east. Our existing businesses and communities need to keep up to date as new technologies are rolled out.
Central government has set the aspiration of 100% gigabit connectivity by the end of 2025 (revised January 2020 to 85% by 2025 and an aspiration to go further); this will be achieved by a combination of commercial deployment and in rural and other high-cost areas through government intervention, the ‘gigabit’ or ‘outside-in’ programme.
The first (of 1,500 planned) contracts nationally are likely to begin deployment mid-2022. Although it is not currently known when Dorset will begin to benefit, Dorset Council is working with Government to agree the strategy for Dorset and the pipeline of work. A range of interventions will be required.
We continue to converge our legacy council infrastructure, applications and devices to enable us to operate as a single organisation following local government reorganisation. We currently have:
- 5,839 network users,
- 6,077 corporately issued devices (laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones)
- 239 network connections going into sites
To connect people and places and exploit technologies across Dorset and within the council we will:
- complete the superfast programme by 2022 and work with the Government to define and deliver the next ‘Gigabit programme’ to deliver full fibre broadband to the final 20%.
- stimulate investment from the private sector through creating conditions that encourage and facilitate commercial network deployment
- deliver the current 5GDorset test bed and trial programme and explore further mobile infrastructure and 5G opportunities.
- identify opportunities to use new and emerging technologies such as robotic process automation and machine learning, to free up officer time for frontline services and help us meet increasing demand. We will continue to explore robotics in care and widen our collaboration with others such as the NHS, sharing our learning to influence our peers.
- implement a digital platform that will help us use, build and share re-usable components to develop service interactions, join up our data, and use open standards to enable integration of new technologies such as Internet of Things (voice, sensors), to monitor and trigger proactive service delivery. The platform will be flexible and scalable beyond the boundaries of the council, providing a solid foundation to build on.
- put in place assurance processes to meet the Government Service Standard and re-use common design patterns to give us the agility and pace we need when delivering digital work.
- make sure all changes to the application and website landscape support the business objectives and move us from siloed instances of change. Where we cannot replace line of business applications by common components in the digital platform any future selection must be done in alignment with the Technology Code of Practice.
- make sure our technology services are safe and secure and achieve appropriate compliance accreditation to provide assurance to our communities and partners that we can be trusted to handle personal data. We will develop our capability to identify and mitigate security risks and conduct regular exercises to make sure we are able to respond effectively to emerging threats.
- provide converged and flexible technology platforms that remove the friction from adopting new ways of working; focusing on delivering better user experience, improving the availability of technology services, maintaining and driving value from the application portfolio.
- supporting dispersed working and collaboration, removing the need for paper and printing, applying appropriate record retention and destruction policies, understanding and managing our information assets