Work is underway on a pioneering project which aims to convert Gloucester into one of the best connected cities in the UK, partners Gloucester City Council and BT announced today.
A landmark deal, the first of its kind in the UK, will see the introduction of a free public wireless (wi-fi) service for tourists and people living and working in the city centre, a new state-of-the-art CCTV service and control room and improved mobile phone coverage for 4G and other new services.
Gloucester is believed to be the first UK city to combine all three in one project with BT.
The investment will improve public safety and help people to stay in touch more easily as they shop, work and socialise in the city centre.
It’s also been confirmed the new CCTV and wi-fi services will be up and running to coincide with the start of the Rugby World Cup in September, in which Gloucester is playing a major role.
Once the planning and surveying work is complete, the partners will begin installing the wireless access points and 50 new high-definition CCTV cameras in the heart of the city centre and Gloucester Park.
Where possible, existing structures will be used to house the new equipment which will replace the current analogue CCTV network, now more than 15 years old. The new digital service will provide clearer images, enable security teams to zoom in on potential trouble-spots and gather evidence with high quality images.
Access to the Gloucester wi-fi service will be free and unlimited to all. It will extend from Westgate and Eastgate, along Northgate and Southgate and into Worcester Street towards Kingsholm Stadium.
Laptops, tablets and mobile devices, including smartphones, will be able to connect to it via a specially tailored page being developed by the partners.
Councillor Jennie Dallimore, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “Today marks an important milestone in our quest to make Gloucester one of the most connected places in the UK.
“This is fantastic news for people visiting the city as well as local businesses, students and shoppers. We really hope the project will help put Gloucester on the map.
“It’s great to work with BT on this unique project and we are really looking forward to when everything is up-and-running – just in time for the Rugby World Cup too.”
BT will manage the combined services for up to 10 years*.
Paul Coles, BT’s regional manager for Gloucestershire and the South West, said: “Connecting people is at the heart of what we do, but this is the first time these three key elements – CCTV, wi-fi and enhanced mobile communications – have been developed in one project for one city by BT, at the same time. It’s great to see Gloucester pioneering this approach which we now hope to replicate in other towns and cities.
“This project is another important step forward in the development of communications for Gloucester and the wider county, where the roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband is continuing at a pace.
“The new free public wi-fi service will provide people with a reliable and secure way of staying in touch whilst they are working, studying, shopping or socialising in and around the city, whilst the latest CCTV technology will help to keep them safe.
“Providing better mobile phone coverage is also important and we hope mobile network operators will take advantage and opt to boost their local coverage through the new cells that can be made available alongside the new CCTV and wi-fi networks.”