Norfolk County Council announced as Digital Council of the Year award
24 September 2020
Beating the other shortlisted councils of Brentwood Borough and Newcastle City Councils, Norfolk County Council’s hard work towards its goal of becoming the best-connected rural county in the country was recognised by award, along with the wide range of work to make full use of digital technology.
Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Cabinet Member for Innovation, Transformation and Performance, said: “We’ve worked hard to make Norfolk a prime destination for those looking to use technology to innovate and grow their business, and winning this award shows how far we have already come. It’s the result of a lot of hard work, and I want to congratulate our IMT team and other colleagues at Norfolk County Council and our partners across the region who have helped to make this happen.
“I invite anyone looking to establish or expand their business to put Norfolk at the top of their list. The past few months have shown us the vital role that technology will continue to play in our economy so we should be proud of the fact that Norfolk is so well equipped for the future, and take pride that our work has been recognised nationally with this award.”
Announcing the award on their website Total Telecom, the organisers of Connected Britain, said: “Norfolk County Council has made huge progress towards its ambition of becoming the best-connected rural county in the UK. Having to overcome the considerable challenge of its rural geography, the Council has managed to improve digital learning in schools, build the UK’s largest LoRaWAN network, and is engaging fully with government to take advantage of the Local Full-Fibre Network programme; all of which will have a long-lasting effect on the county’s digital future.”
About the Innovation Network
The Innovation Network is the largest free-to-use long range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) deployment in the UK. The network is already being used by Agricultural retailer Ben Burgess and Norfolk County Council’s highways team.
Businesses can buy their own sensors which can be connected to the network of ‘gateways’ for free, allowing them to measure anything from weather and rainfall, sound, temperature, visitors passing through an area, or even the number of people sitting at desks in an office. This data is then sent to businesses, which the council will support them in setting up and monitoring.
Before the network, sensors would need to be more complex and store data themselves, sometimes costing upwards of £1,000. But with the Innovation Network in place, cheaper, low power sensors that focus on the gathering of data can cost as little as £10 and be used to transmit data over a long distance. This makes using the technology much more accessible to businesses and organisations in Norfolk.
There are currently 55 gateways located across Norfolk. Once finished, the network will be made up of 270 gateways across Norfolk and Suffolk, with both county councils rolling out new gateway locations, with funding from the New Anglia LEP, based on interest from businesses that wish to make use of it.
The Network was officially launched in September 2020 via a live online event. A full recording of the event can be viewed on the Norfolk County Council YouTube channel.