Prosperity Outcomes: Connected Nation

Supplementary content information

Connected Nation Outcomes and Ambitions.

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John Baird, Lead for Digital Economy - EPSRC

I’m John Baird.  I’m the lead for the Digital Economy theme in EPSRC.  I’m also the convenor for connected nation which is one of EPSRC’s four new outcomes.  Connected nation really is in the name, it is actually the digital connections that are now being facilitated by the worldwide web and the computational, pervasive and mobile computing and all the technologies around sensors and the increase in a digitisation society.  It’s all that fused together, the whole digitisation of the economy where increasingly we see more and more businesses and aspects of the economy going digital. 

The connected nation has five main ambitions and they are all interrelated, but they are fundamentally underpinned by the first ambition, which is all around data to enable a competitive data driven economy.  What happens if you can analyse that big data and perhaps use that analysis for a competitive advantage for businesses.  If you look at the Google model, for example, they set up a whole business around data and analysing that data and then interpreting and giving customers the added value and the UK’s very strong on things like financial technology, insurance and all the services around that.  So we think that the underpinning data driven aspects of the connected nation will lead to massive transformational impact on users, in terms of new business opportunities and also delivering public services and government services as well.

A second ambition is around achieving a transformational change in the development of the Internet of Things, the so-called IoT, and the idea here is we want to go from the very simple level to become a more holistic systems driven thing, that you could use in all different aspects whether it’s a smart city of the future, or any buildings or transport systems.  The opportunities there extend from the basic sciences in terms of making sensors better, right the way through to integrating them into a system where businesses could exploit them for the benefit of UK plc.

The third ambition is around delivering smart autonomous systems.  It’s where the sort of data world, the IoT world, is actually meeting real things whether it is a robot  or some sort of assisted living type platform, so you have a car for example or autonomous vehicle, or a drone.

The fourth priority in the connected nation is something that again is quite big and that is trying to ensure a safe cyber society and cyber economy and that’s all around trust, identity, privacy and security in the digital age.

The fifth ambition is all around the digital society and what the future digital economy would look like, say ten or twenty years from now. 

The UK success is going to be driven by new industries and services that are at the moment probably unimaginable.  The whole science agenda of EPSRC is needed to try and push those areas forward.  If we can rise to the challenges set out in the connected nation ambitions, we will be able to create new technologies to be exploited by users and therefore give the UK a really strong competitive advantage.