Digital Connectivity: What It Means for Sheffield and Beyond

An Innovative City

Sheffield has always been a forward-thinking, innovative city, and we are proud to call it our home. From the city’s history as a steel producer, to the thriving community of SMEs, Sheffield has a rich history of innovation. Digital connectivity and its underpinning infrastructure support businesses and people in a myriad of ways, from remote working to travelling, streaming and more.

Digital Connectivity
‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable attendees

Shifting Digital Trends

The latest data from the government illustrates widespread internet usage across the UK, with 92% of adults in the UK regularly using the internet and the proportion of over 75-year-olds regularly accessing the internet nearly doubling between 2013 to 2020 – no doubt expanding further since this data was released in 2021.

Connectivity and usage have unquestionably been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We’ve seen trends for typical consumers shifting online, with the growth of platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the expansion of social media platforms like TikTok. Ofcom reports that ‘UK adults are now spending more than a quarter of their waking day online – the highest on record’.

Across industries such as our own, we’ve seen similar shifts reflected. Most notably, the move to remote working, with ONS reporting that between 2019 and 2022 ‘home working in the UK has more than doubled’.

Within the rail industry and wider transport sector, digitalisation and the ‘digital railway’ has been a key focus of discussion and development. Major infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), a project in which we are proudly involved in, are integrating digitalisation and innovative technology.

With these trends in mind, building world-class digital infrastructure to support people and businesses in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and across the UK has never been more important.

‘Powering Connectivity in Sheffield’ Roundtable

In February, our Technical Services Director, Ross Bray, was part of the ‘Powering connectivity in Sheffield’ roundtable hosted by ITS Technology and Insider.

The roundtable’s focus was directed on ‘Sheffield’s vision for a world-class digital infrastructure underpinned by high-quality, futureproof full fibre services’, and brought together representatives from the city’s digital space, as well as the more traditional industries that Sheffield is known for.

It was certainly interesting to hear a broad range of perspectives from Sheffield businesses. For instance, manufacturing company Gripple shared the challenges they face in the manufacturing sector. It was clear that no matter our size, sector or location, we face a central challenge: how to connect people better.

Technical Services Director, Ross witnesses the tangible benefits digital connectivity can provide on a daily basis, whether that is in the solutions 3Squared delivers, or the ability to work from home whilst staying connected with the team.

Ross’s career path has meant he has always been an advocate for digital connectivity and the benefits it provides, even prior to joining our team.

Ross and the rest of the 3Squared team are eager to see the growth and change that connectivity can have for Sheffield-based businesses like ours, as well as for people across Yorkshire.

The New Way of Working

The digital world we live in impacts the way businesses work internally, as well as the way we collaborate with other organisations.

Instead of complicated logistics and hours of travel, we can connect online at the click of a button. This enables more efficient, effective communication across businesses and clients, changing the face of project delivery. It also enables more opportunities to engage with people.

Remote working can empower people to join the workforce, including parents and people with disabilities, which supports equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). We pride ourselves on offering more opportunities in Sheffield, such as through our partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. We are also excited to get involved with new projects supporting EDI in the fields of technology, innovation and rail.

From the roundtable discussion, it is certain that the hybrid approach we and many other businesses take is here to stay. Nevertheless, we all require the necessary infrastructure to successfully support this new way of working.

The Digital Railway

Here at 3Squared, we know that digital connectivity underpins everything – from developing software to putting it into action.

Digital solutions for the rail industry require data, and a lot of it. To maximise the benefits of our solutions, we need to share huge amounts of data with a diverse set of people located across the country.

Real-time data collection will play a pivotal role in the future of the rail industry. The insights coupled with such data will improve performance, efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

To make this future rail network a reality as with the new way of working, we require this same effective digital connectivity infrastructure across the UK.

We would like to thank ITS Technology and Insider Media for hosting the insightful roundtable and the Sheffield business community representatives for a great discussion.

This article was originally published by 3Squared.

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