This announcement is game-changing for the West Midlands economy. This will be the backbone of our future economy and society. We have been working to put the foundations in place to grow the industries which will create the jobs of the future, particularly around driverless vehicles and life sciences where we have a genuine advantage. To deliver the future of these industries we need the power of 5g. The potential of this technology is endless – and we will enjoy the benefits first. From monitoring the health of babies and the elderly, to the way our people are linked to the economy of the future, the way companies do business, the way we deliver public services, the experience of travellers on public transport and the way we deliver City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games – everything can be made better thanks to the power of this technology. Hospital outpatient appointments and emergency consultations carried out remotely by video link not subject to droppage or latency barriers. As well as being more convenient for patients, this means they can play back their appointment at a later date or share it securely with a family member or carer to help inform their care. “Connected Ambulances” – Paramedic crews at an incident could access specialist advice while they are at the scene, eg video conferencing with consultants or other clinical specialists. Live streaming of patient data from ambulance en route to hospital would help inform the immediate care patients receive on arrival. Live streaming of CCTV footage from public transport buses, enabling immediate action against anti-social behaviour. “Intelligent cameras” using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify incidents could provide the opportunity for far greater coverage than is possible at present. The NPIF is designed to bolster UK productivity, which is crucial to raising living standards. Through the NPIF, the Government is investing in the vital infrastructure needed to make it easier for people to connect with others, and work remotely and flexibly. West Midlands Combined Authority have committed an initial £25m of funding to the Urban Connected Communities Project, which Government will match. This will be subject to approval of the project’s business plan. Further public funding will be subject to the development of the project and the parameters of the business case. The total investment made from public funding for the entire project will be matched by commercial funding. In the next phase of the Urban Connected Communities project West Midlands Combined Authority will be looking to develop partnerships with the mobile sector to design and deliver the project. The West Midlands has been selected to become the innovative home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed. The multi million pound trial of new high speed connectivity will pave the way for the future rollout of 5G across the UK, making the region the first in the UK ready to trial new 5G applications and services at scale.The Urban Connected Communities Project, the next step in the Government’s 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, will develop a large-scale, 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.Up to £50m is currently available for the project, subject to further development and approval of the business plan. This includes £25m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and a further £25m match funding from regional partners. An additional £25m may be made available at a later stage.Minister for Digital, Margot James said: DCMS funding for the project will come from the £200 million government has assigned to develop 5G technologies as part of more than £1bn of investment in next-generation digital infrastructure, including via the £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, aimed at continually driving the UK’s connectivity, telecommunications and digital sectors, and investing in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future.Notes to Editors Autonomous vehicles will transform the way we travel, preventing major accidents, improving traffic flow and reducing energy consumption. The WMCA will partner with Jaguar Land Rover to facilitate real world testing of driverless cars.Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: 5G has the potential to dramatically transform the way we go about our daily lives, and we want the citizens of the UK to be amongst the first to experience all the opportunities and benefits this new technology will bring. The West Midlands Testbed, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will be instrumental in helping us realise this ambition. Following its selection through open competition, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will now work with the 5G Testbeds and Trials Team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and industry partners on preparing the formal business case for approval, with the first of a series of projects expected to go live early next year.The West Midlands Combined Authorities bid has an initial focus on the health, construction and automotive sectors, with its overarching ambition to help drive economic growth and benefit people’s lives through participation in new digital technologies and digitally transformed public services.Subject to formal approval, initial plans include:
View Comments Good news, Broadway, Josh Groban is in it for the long haul! After receiving much acclaim for his Main Stem debut in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, the Grammy nominee has announced that he will remain with the production through July 2, 2017. Also starring Denée Benton, Dave Malloy’s Rachel Chavkin-helmed musical snapshot into Tolstoy’s Russian masterpiece War and Peace, officially opened on November 14 at the Imperial Theatre.In addition to Groban and Benton, the cast includes Brittain Ashford, Lucas Steele, Gelsey Bell, Nicholas Belton, Nick Choksi, Amber Gray, Grace McLean, Paul Pinto, Reed Luplau, Brandt Martinez, Alex Gibson, Billy Joe Kiessling, Mary Spencer Knapp, Andrew Mayer, Ani Taj, Cathryn Wake, Scott Stangland, Sumayya Ali, Courtney Bassett, Josh Canfield, Ken Clark, Erica Dorfler, Lulu Fall, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Nick Gaswirth, Azudi Onyejekwe, Pearl Rhein, Heath Saunders, Katrina Yaukey and Lauren Zakrin.Great Comet follows follows Natasha (Benton), a young girl who forms a relationship with the attractive rebel Anatole (Steele) while her betrothed Andrey (Belton) is off fighting. Andrey’s best friend Pierre (Groban) remains on high alert as the new romance blossoms. Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 3, 2017 Related Shows Josh Groban in ‘Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812′(Photo: Chad Batka) Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Hiking through South Africa’s uniquelybeautiful fynbos. The Eden to AddoMega-Hike straddles five distinct biomes:Afromontane Forest, Mountain Fynbos,Succulent Karoo, Savanna Grassland andAlbany Thicket. Enjoying the view.(Images: Galeo Saintz, Eden to Addo) Gareth Patterson’s new book, the result ofseven years of research, mainatins thatthere are still nine wild elephants livingin the dense Knysna forest.MEDIA CONTACTS• Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative+27 44 356 2825+27 82 888 [email protected]@edentoaddo.co.zaRELATED ARTICLES• Slackpacking in the Cedarberg• The adventure starts here • Unforgettable SA hiking trails• Biggest nature park in the world • Holidays that save the world Jennifer SternWalking is much more than a way to get from A to B. It’s a meditation and a pilgrimage.The late Boudewijn Wegerif, a Swede who walked from Stockholm to Cape Town in 1999 to protest world debt, called walking “brain aerobics.” He maintained that the regular movement of your left leg and right arm followed by right leg and left arm – continued for a couple of hours – increased the connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. He would have known. Stockholm to Cape Town is a long trek.Of course, in this day and age, walking is probably the least efficient way to get from one place to another – unless they’re really close. So there has to be another reason for anyone deciding to walk the 400-odd kilometres between Kranshoek in the Knysna forest to Addo near Port Elizabeth. And there is. The Eden to Addo Mega-Hike is a pilgrimage – a pilgrimage to biodiversity.The hike is offered once a year, usually in September, as a “slackpacking” trail. What this means is that trailists carry only the essentials in a day pack, and all their gear is taken from camp to camp by a back-up vehicle. Added luxuries are the fact that your tents are erected for you, and meals provided. So like any good pilgrim, you can concentrate on the mission at hand.Natural migrationThe mission is to understand the need for, and importance of, conservation corridors in general, and this one in particular. In the past, conservation areas were established for a variety of reasons, mostly good. But often they were too small to allow for natural migration, so the pressure on the reserve’s resources would become excessive, and necessitate some rather creative management strategies.This has been recognised by conservation authorities in the last couple of decades so reserves in the southern Africa region – and indeed all over the world – are being consolidated.Successful local examples include the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, made up of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe, and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique; and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana.The hike traverses a unique corridor stretching from the tangled, green coastal afromontane forest biome of Knysna to the game-rich Albany thicket of Addo, passing through a range of farms and reserves belonging to about 60 different landowners.While all the stakeholders are in favour of the idea of a conservation corridor, it’s not that easy to implement. Which is why the mega-hike was established. As well as being a great way to spend about three weeks, it is also a fund-raising project, and offers participants the opportunity to interact with a variety of conservation specialists who share their knowledge on the trail. It really is about the conservation, not the walking. All profits go directly to the Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative, a non-profit Section 21 company.Going postalGaleo Saintz, who leads the hike, pioneered the route in 2005 with the specific purpose of finding out whether there was a hikeable route between Knysna and Addo.He set off alone and posted light, dehydrated food, spare camping gas cylinders and fresh socks to himself at post offices in towns he’d never heard of. He was joined on sections of the walk by friends – and even one complete stranger, who really liked what he was doing so decided to keep him company.The upshot was that he managed to track down his supplies in the tiny rural post offices, and found it was possible – if rather strenuous – to hike the route. The next year, 2006, the escorted Eden to Addo Mega-Hike was launched with 24 participants.“The long-term strategy,” Saintz says, “is to make it a self-guided trail, but it’s wild country and, with so many landowners, it will take a lot of planning.”The hike straddles five distinct biomes and links three major conservation areas. The existing parks and reserves are the Knysna Protected Area, the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. These together protect patches of afromontane forest, mountain fynbos, succulent Karoo, savanna grassland and Albany thicket. All these biomes are transition zones that overlap – and even shift from year to year with varying rainfall.The trail takes participants from one biome to another, linking seven mountain ranges and peaks over the 21 days. Daily walking distances average about 23 kilometres, with the shortest day being 12 kilometres and the longest about 35 kilometres, so this is not an easy hike. The terrain is mountainous and there is little flat walking, and where there is, it is far.The views are stupendous, the air is invigorating and the constant change in scenery and vegetation offers an intellectual challenge equal to the physical one.Some not-so pretty aspects of the hike include climbing over fences, fighting through thick stands of invasive alien trees, and coming across gin traps and other indications that the proclamation of this corridor really is a priority. Fireside debates are long, interesting and – while not acrimonious – can get quite robust.Mysterious elephants of KnysnaIt is surmised – with some good evidence – that the trail loosely follows old elephant migration paths. This raises an interesting issue, and some remarkable new research.The elephants of the dense Knysna forest, the only really wild elephants left in South Africa as there are no fences keeping them in a designated park – and certainly the most mysterious, elusive and endangered – were thought to be on the brink of extinction.Conservationists tried translocating a couple of elephants from the Kruger National Park to Knysna a few years ago, but those poor Lowveld animals took one look at the tangled forests and rushed to hide out in the much safer-looking surrounding farmlands. The plan was abandoned.So many believed there was no hope for the elusive elephants, with some conservationists claiming there was only a single elephant left in Knysna. But that was until well-known conservationist and author Gareth Patterson published The Secret Elephants in 2009, the result of an eight-year hunt through the forest.Based on observations such as spoor, branches recently snapped by trunks, dung and temporary tunnels created by the animals’ passage through the thick vegetation, Patterson’s book – and an hour-long documentary aired on Animal Planet – concludes that there are at least nine elephants still living in Knysna. DNA analysis of the dung has identified five females, all related to each other.Patterson says the elephants have adapted to human intrusion and hauled themselves back from the edge of extinction all by themselves, with no help from us. It’s an optimistic and romantic idea, but that’s what a pilgrimage is all about – faith. And hope. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, for a cause, for a dream, and for a better future.