INSIGHT

Greater Manchester’s
Digital Ambitions

Becoming More than Just a Smart City

Whether it’s producing European Cup winning football teams or genre defining musicians, Manchester is a city that has built a reputation based on leadership, innovation and imagination. The continued success and growth of this northern powerhouse is undoubtedly an integral part of why businesses of all shapes and sizes are drawn to the city, hoping not only to become a part of Manchester’s legacy, but to help shape the city’s digital future.

To better understand the scale of Manchester’s digital potential, it’s worth first putting the sheer size of the city’s economy in to context. It produces around £59.5 billion worth of goods and services, accounting for around 40% of the North West’s gross value added (GVA) to the economy. It is home to the BBC, ITV, the largest student population in Europe and a staggering 120,000 businesses. The digital sector alone contributes £4.1 billion of economic growth annually, with 82,000 people employed by a digital business. But it doesn’t stop there. Manchester has its sights set on becoming one of the top five digital cities in Europe, an ambition echoed by Mayor Andy Burnham in his aim to make Manchester ‘the smartest city’.

But what does making Manchester the ‘smartest city’ mean? Put simply, a truly smart city is one that embraces digital technology to make life better for everyone; whether that’s utilising the latest in cloud and communication software to make public services more efficient, or investing in the latest broadband infrastructure to bring superfast public WiFi to all of the city’s public spaces. For a city like Manchester, a brighter digital future is one that is more inclusive, productive and creates new opportunities for businesses and communities alike.

This vision of a smart, digitally empowered Manchester is one that Virgin Media Business is immensely excited to be a part of. We’re already hard at work building the infrastructure that will form the building blocks of this transformation, investing £13 billion in our own network across the UK, with another £3 billion set aside for the next three years. Already, 33% of businesses and organisations in Manchester are using our connectivity and by 2025, we’re aiming to have played a key role in helping Greater Manchester fulfil their ambition of bringing Fibre to the Premises (FttP) to 80% of Manchester’s businesses, enabling them to take full advantage of an increasingly digitised marketplace.

Infrastructure capable of delivering a digital future to Greater Manchester’s organisations and businesses is just one tool in our arsenal however. Ensuring public services have access to the best digital solutions is a vital part of any city’s smart strategy and we’re already geared up to help Manchester achieve this aim. Not only do we have 20 years of experience in the public sector, working with 75% of the UK’s police forces and building tailored solutions for health and social care bodies across the UK, Virgin Media Business are already providing solutions to NHS Cumbria and Lancashire Telestroke Network, saving them over £8 million a year. What’s more, our status as an approved supplier of HSCN services means we’re ideally placed to help even more of Manchester’s health services make the transition to a faster, more flexible and cost efficient solution.

Supporting public services with new technology, improving healthcare networks and empowering the digital ambitions of every startup, SME and corporation in Manchester. These are the objectives, but at its core, the success of Greater Manchester’s smartest city strategy depends on the people who live and work there. Businesses that have access to Voom Fibre business broadband can seize their digital potential, creating new jobs and opportunities.  A digitally empowered public sector will deliver more inclusive, efficient services to Manchester’s residents, whilst innovations like superfast public WiFi and 5G networks means that everyone can download files, share and stream, wherever they are in the city.

Throughout its history, Manchester has been at the forefront of innovation, producing art, music, technology and an industry that’s been the envy of Britain, not to mention the rest of the world. As they look to fulfil their digital ambitions and create one of the smartest cities in Europe, we’re ready to work alongside them, delivering smart solutions that not only transform Manchester itself, but the lives of those who live and work in this incredible city.

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