Sensor City gets £3.5m for 5G health and social care project

Sensor City has been awarded a £3.5m grant to investigate the opportunities of 5G community Wi-Fi in health and social care.

The University of Liverpool reports the grant is one of only six awarded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbeds and Trials programme which aims to spearhead efforts to make the UK a world leader in 5G.

Sensor City, the joint venture project between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, will lead a consortium made up of public sector health suppliers, the NHS, university researchers, local SMEs and a leading UK 5G technology vendor.

Funded for one year in the first instance, the project will see high value technologies including low cost open source 5G networks, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things deployed across deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region test bed.

The consortium will use this technology to reduce the digital divide, while measuring the impact on patient monitoring and support, management of loneliness in older adults, aid to independent living in the home and the facilitation of communication between hospitals and the community.

Professor Joe Spencer, University of Liverpool academic lead for Sensor City who developed the bid, said “A successful demonstration of a 5G testbed in health and social care will see the development of new, innovative and disruptive technologies that will help to bridge the digital divide in the UK, especially in deprived communities. 5G Wi-Fi will not only enable the development of new cost-effective products and services to address real needs and demand, but also bring huge social and economic benefits for the most vulnerable in society, while reducing the demand on hospital-based services.”

Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, said “One year on from the Digital Strategy, we are delivering on our commitments to create a Britain fit for the future, with a thriving digital economy that works for everyone. The ground-breaking projects announced today will help to unlock 5G and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the economy and wider society.”

Alison Mitchell, executive director at Sensor City, said “Sensor City is proud to lead on what is set to be a truly groundbreaking project with a consortium of like-minded partners. The Government’s 5G strategy for the UK presents a fantastic opportunity to transform the lives of many, especially through health and social care, so I think I speak for all partners when I say we’re excited to see this work unfold over the next five years.”

Professor Robin Leatherbarrow, LJMU Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Scholarship, Research & Knowledge Transfer, said “This fantastic project shows the power of research and enterprise to drive transformation across social, cultural and economic boundaries. It also demonstrates the benefits of sharing expertise, and of people coming together with a common purpose, to improve lives in the Liverpool City Region.”

DCMS also announced five other testbeds from the Orkney Islands to the West of England with funding ranging from £2m to £5m.

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