May 23rd 2024, Swansea - The first event of its kind to be hosted by Swansea Bay City Deal’s (SBCD) Digital Infrastructure Programme, marked the confirmation of a new digital era for the City Deal region, that spans Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.   

Speakers throughout the day reiterated the need for continued collaborations between the private and public sector to maximise the use of technology to enhance the health, wellbeing and social care outcomes for communities as well as drive the potential growth of those sectors.   

With plenty of local authority staff present, the first panel focused on the journey to 5G and beyond, which spoke directly to that audience, with Pete Hollebon from Virgin Media O2 emphasising, “You are the gatekeepers, and we want to connect to you to improve both the social environment and business prosperity. This is just the start and part of building a longer relationship to ensure better connectivity.

"We (VMO2) are proud that Swansea will be the first Welsh community to receive inward investment through outdoor small cells".

With an array of expert speakers throughout the day, topics were tackled thoroughly.  In particular when discussing 5G health concerns, where Dr. Rob Matthews from Vodafone pointed out, “One of the challenges is getting information out to people to make sure that they have the full picture on the technology, whilst making sure we talk to stakeholders and local authorities, so that we ensure that members of the public are continually part of the process.”

With a full capacity, remote attendees were actively encouraged to interact with the day’s discussions and presentations to ensure their voices were heard.  Gareth Jones, Chief Digital Officer for Carmarthenshire County Council, who led the day’s programme stated, “it was fantastic to see how many people in the region are taking an interest in the digital developments around them and learning that they are as much of a part of that progressive process as anyone else. 

Hearing their thoughts and ideas today was extremely encouraging and I hope that this will spark an enthusiasm to learn more about the benefits of better digital connectivity, as this will only allow our region to thrive further, in the coming years.”

Panellist enthusiastically discussed their thoughts on the development of digital connectivity, but more importantly how this transforms the lives of people and businesses within the Swansea Bay region.  

With demonstrated commitment from our regional partners and successful collaborations between private and public sectors already taking place, the Swansea Bay City Deal region is well-positioned to reap vast investment rewards that will ensure that communities become better connected and business prosper in the future.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council and Chair of the Swansea Bay City Deal Joint Committee, who closed the event with his Vision for a truly digital Swansea said,

“Gathering such a variety of industry experts and government representatives to cover the valuable topics that influence the region’s digital future is a great opportunity. Not only will it promote healthy collaborations that will drive digital infrastructure projects forward but ensures that everyone is continuously included in the dialogue of how to shape digital future in the Swansea Bay City Deal region.”