A vision for digital connectivity in Hackney

In our manifesto in May 2018 we set out a vision for the Council and the administration which committed us to:

Push the market to provide Hackney with fast, consistent internet connectivity, including using the borough’s assets to encourage suppliers to invest in improved connectivity across the borough including free Wi-Fi in Hackney’s town centres and public buildings.

I want this to be much more than a ‘tech’ or ‘digital’ thing and I worry about focusing on or seeking out ‘smart city’ headlines without being clear about how this will make a positive difference for the people who live and work in Hackney. Done right I am confident that extending digital connectivity in the borough will be an important factor in growing employment opportunities, addressing social isolation and creating a more inclusive economy. Getting this right is not just important for our growing businesses or for attracting more investment, it is a social justice issue and critical to reducing the digital divide, part of our continuing journey to ensure Hackney remains a place for everyone.

I want to see a thriving and competitive market for digital connectivity in the borough that will meet residents’ and businesses’ needs now and in the future, recognising how important connectivity is to supporting business growth and the way that people live in the digital age. The Council has a significant role in this, working as a partner to providers and as an advocate for our residents.

I am delighted that Hackney’s Cabinet have approved the vision that we have set out for improving digital connectivity across Hackney. The vision builds upon our manifesto commitment and provides a starting point for the conversations we want to have with Hackney residents and businesses, partners in the public and voluntary sectors and with telecommunications operators so that we can work together to shape the way that we move this important agenda forward.

Areas that we have identified for focus are:

  • Looking at how we might use the Council’s assets (including our extensive private fibre cabling network) to improve connectivity in areas that are currently without fast internet access.
  • Reviewing our regulatory role to make sure that we are facilitating improvements in provision.
  • Improving access for social housing residents, so that everyone is able to benefit from access to digital services.
  • Exploring how the Council can support business growth across the borough by using our assets to encourage providers to improve connectivity for businesses.

You can read our vision document here: http://bit.ly/2SIpvKm.

The vision we have set out is just the start. We need to ensure that we work with Hackney’s residents and businesses to reflect their needs and our next step will be engaging with you to hear your thoughts and use these to shape the plans that we will then take forward. I’m looking forward to being part of this conversation and making sure that access to high quality and affordable digital services is at the heart of what we do over the next three years.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney