5G is the next generation of mobile internet, offering faster speeds and enhanced connectivity that could transform transport, education, healthcare and agriculture among other sectors.
The plan, Forging our Digital Future with 5G, sets out how the Scottish Government will work with industry, the regulator and other public sector bodies to make sure all of Scotland – including rural areas – benefits from the technology.
5G could enable Scotland to add £17 billion to GDP by 2035, creating 160,000 jobs and increasing productivity by £1,600 a worker in just over 15 years.
Potential uses of 5G technology include:
• using in-home sensors to monitor patient health, capturing real-time health data and reducing the need for recently discharged patients to return to hospital for check-ups
• measuring blood glucose level non-invasively with results displayed on a smartphone
• localised flood warning systems using 5G-connected sensors to measure river level changes, giving people in remote communities greater time to prepare
• supporting Scotland’s low-carbon objectives with public bodies exploring smart lighting, smart heating and smart electric vehicle charging hubs
• contributing to the long-term sustainability of Scotland’s rural economy. 5G technology could underpin a wealth of rural applications, such as salmon health monitoring, sustainable tourism, radio broadcasting and connected windfarms
Speaking during a visit to Glasgow University’s School of Engineering, the First Minister said: “Our 5G plan sets out the actions we believe are needed to ensure as much of Scotland as possible shares in the vast potential growth on offer. Our aspiration is to position Scotland as a 5G leader and a forward-looking digital nation.
5G offers rich potential – opportunities to enhance Scotland’s global competitiveness, achieve economic growth and drive innovation across our public and private sectors.
“There are huge potential gains for the public sector if we embrace technologies such as 5G. We believe this will be a catalyst for further public sector transformation, enabling high quality, user-focused and efficient services that are driven by data.”
Professor Chris Pearce, Dean of Research in the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said: “5G is a next-generation network technology which is faster, has the potential to revolutionise digital communications and create real social impact in Scotland – from public health to the environment.
“Our researchers, led by Professor Muhammad Imran at the University of Glasgow, are developing 5G technologies to facilitate remote health monitoring without invasive measurements and without the need for wearable sensors. They are also working to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions of cellular networks and are developing low-cost pop-up networks. These can be deployed quickly and efficiently during large sporting events or disaster scenarios to bring temporary connectivity to the area, strengthening Scotland’s resilience capacity.
“The University of Glasgow has been working with academic partners, including the University of Strathclyde, and Scottish Futures Trust on 5G and we are delighted that the Scottish Government’s 5G Strategy recognises the importance this technology will have in creating services and applications that will benefit our NHS, industry and people right across Scotland.”
Andrew McRae, Federation of Small Businesses Scotland’s policy chair, said: “Scotland needs to be in the digital fast lane because the next generation of mobile technologies have the potential to boost growth and drive innovation.
Three quarters of Scottish businesses say that digital technologies are important to their plans for future growth. But to deliver on this ambition, firms need access to the right skills and high quality digital infrastructure. For this reason, decision-makers in Scotland need to do everything they can to ensure Scotland is at the forefront of the 5G revolution. This new 5G strategy is a step in the right direction.