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Innovation Briefing Issue 7 | Editorial Introduction by Simon Rockman

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Simon Rockman on 16 Nov 2021
  • Last modified 16 Nov 2021
George Formby sang about leaning on a lamppost in the 1937 film Feather Your Nest. The song, written by Noel Gay, was a huge hit. Nearly a century later, street lights are suddenly the hot new topic. It’s no longer just a famous ukulele player, singer and comedian who sees a value in using a lamppost for support.

DCMS has launched the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator or DCIA project to map places, known as “assets” where mobile networks might attach their cells.

There is a renewed interest in making good use of the street furniture which already has the power connection. For a mobile phone cell site, you like to have some height but you need power and connectivity.

That’s what the Liverpool 5G project has been using as part of the Department’s Testbeds and Trials programme since the early days of the programme. Street lights in Merseyside not only provide power but, connectivity too. Because Merseyside lampposts have CCTV, they already have a fibre connection.

With the move to adding charging points for electric vehicles we can add transportation to communication, illumination and observation.

What that means is that there are now many more people taking an interest in the humble lamp post, not just the local authority. The Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator’s brief is to record the location of each one - something a lot of organisations will need to know.

At the moment, most local authorities have a good enough idea of where each one is to run them and maintain them – for example, where to send the cherry picker to change a bulb. But as more uses come to play there are more parameters. Organisations planning CCTV installations will want to know the line of sight – which may be different when trees are in leaf. This will also be of concern for the radio network planners who will also want an idea of the effect of signals bouncing off nearby buildings. As we move towards the endof the petrol engine the car charging networks will worry about distance from the kerb and ease of parking.

As the telecoms industry we should be aware of that there are many interested parties; these are organisations that we need to work with. Today it’s not just scent-laying spaniels which are quite so interested in the location of a lamppost.

We live in a very different world to that of Noel Gay and George Formby, the original song was a huge hit in sheet music, but it is good to know that if you are ever “Leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street, In case a certain little lady comes by.” You will at least be able to stream George’s films while you are waiting.

Simon Rockman

Editor UK5G