Hello, my name is Patrick Melia and I am the Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council. My team is working on a number of pioneering regeneration projects, including building a new business district in the centre of the city (Riverside Sunderland) that will create 1,000 new homes and 10,000 square feet of office space, facilitating 10,000 jobs. But our plan to become a smart city is what sets us apart from other UK councils—and 5G is an essential part of this.
By the end of 2024, all of the premises in the city (whether a house, business or school) will have full gigabit connectivity. We are building a network of networks with our leading smart city infrastructure, and deploying 5G networks throughout the city. Our university, in the meantime, is using 5G to create seamless connectivity across its city campus, whilst developing courses and extra curricula for students, particularly those studying healthcare. The technology is also helping to monitor traffic flows and air pollution in the centre, meaning data-informed decision-making continuously improves our services and the experience of people living in, working in and visiting our city.
Taking a joint approach is crucial to the project. Working with residents, businesses, public and private sector partners and the voluntary/community sector on a daily basis, I am striving to create the best conditions for everyone in the city to be healthy, safe and successful.
One of our recent standout projects is 5G CAL, which successfully delivered parts and assemblies via 5G-connected autonomous 40-tonne trucks from Vantec to Nissan’s plant, linking many local SMEs in the supply chain.
I am very proud to be a part of this innovative transformation demonstrated by the 5G CAL pilot’s success and many other use cases across Sunderland as we roll out more and more technology-driven initiatives.
5G’s impressive speed and capacity will allow us to flourish, really flourish. For anyone interested in 5G, you need to understand its potential and know how to use it. Why not take a trip to Sunderland? As we move forward, I expect that it will become a very different city. The visitor experience will certainly be transformed as we continue on our smart city journey, and the opportunities open to those living, working and playing in Sunderland are growing by the day.
- What do you enjoy most about working in this space?
It’s just so exciting. So many brilliant, new things are now possible and I don’t think we know even half of 5G’s capabilities yet! Already, the technology is having a positive impact on people’s lives, opening up opportunities and boosting confidence across communities.
2. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of 5G?
Creating a smart city. Who would have thought that one of the biggest global infrastructures in the world would be in Sunderland?
3. What excites you most about working on 5G?
No person or building is left behind. 5G allows us to touch every part of the city and have a positive impact on people’s lives. Finally, we can catch a break from the digital divide.
4. What would you like people to know about your work?
Our work is open to creativity. Digital innovation is also accessible to anybody, anywhere, in the UK.
5. What’s the biggest benefit you think 5G will bring to the UK?
5G will not only bring new sectors that will help us to grow our economy but also greatly benefit UK residents as we evolve skills and fuel further innovation.