Does the street light outside your home have a day job?

Achieving net zero carbon emissions is going to take creative thinking.  And tech we may not even have imagined yet.

But innovations designed to protect the planet could improve our day-to-day lives in many other ways.  

Take our neighbourhoods, for example. Imagine a completely new twist on traditional street services, with familiar fixtures like street lamps doing a lot more than just lighting our way.  

Innovations like this will rely on super-fast 5G solutions and shared expertise. And on cutting-edge tech that can be scaled for use in smart cities for the benefit of people and communities.  

Imagine a council provided street light flooding your neighbourhood with renewably sourced illumination – while at the same time, re-charging your car (or bike) and reporting any drop in community air quality.   

By most built environmental standards that’s a hard working piece of public furniture, especially when you look at estimates that buildings and urban surroundings are responsible for almost 40 per cent of carbon emissions.

And the old street light pole? It stays in place. Only the original head unit is changed, saving time and pressure on the public purse.   

Welcome to 5G and the Internet of Things. And to 5PRING – a consortium made up of Deloitte, Digital Catapult, Telefonica UK (O2) and Wayra.  

Developed by tech start-up Omniflow, this innovative tech is just one of the climate-saving ideas tested in a three-month, West-Midlands based Green Innovation Challenge, supported by 5PRING.

Green Innovations

Aimed at developing 5G solutions that could help the West Midlands Combined Authority achieve its target of net zero emissions by 2041, 5PRING collaborated on The Green Innovation Challenge with the authority and utilities company Suez.

Throughout, ten start-ups were provided with coaching, mentoring and access to its West-Midlands based commercial-application 5G accelerators – the first in the UK.  

For Omniflow business development manager Paulo Guedes, it was an opportunity to test the company’s applications inside a proper 5G ecosystem. 

“We had some assumptions about connectivity speeds that we were able to prove, which was amazing, and building trust in the technology was important,” he said. “We have the proof that 5G will really deliver for us.”

For 5PRING, it provided an important way of joining the dots between innovation and the most powerful ways 5G could be used by businesses and in communities – in the future, in real life.  

5G provides brands with limitless scope for innovation - but the question so many of our clients have been asking is “where do I start?”
Stephen Cowan

Deloitte senior manager

5PRINGing into action  

“We’ve already started to see lamp posts and other street furniture being adapted for wider purposes,” said Deloitte senior manager, Stephen Cowan. “Testing to see how far 5G can push this progress even further – for businesses and communities - is an exciting prospect.”   

“5G provides brands with limitless scope for innovation - but the question so many of our clients have been asking is where do I start?” Stephen continued.

Deloitte research has found that 76 per cent of executives believe 5G will be a ‘critical’ networking technology for their company in three years – and 57 per cent of executives believe their company’s current networking infrastructure prevents them from addressing the innovative use cases they would like to target.

“No one company or industry can uncover all of the opportunities that 5G has to offer,” Stephen continued. “Through 5PRING, groups of different thinkers are coming together to show just what’s possible.”  

Levelling up

Launched in 2020 and 2021 in Birmingham, Coventry, and Wolverhampton, 5PRING’s test bed facilities are there to support the whole of the UK.   

“Working with the West Midlands Combined Authority is an example of how locating them here is helping to ‘level-up’ access to infrastructure, while putting both the West Midlands and the UK firmly on the map as a leader in 5G innovation,” said Jane Whitlock, practice senior partner at Deloitte’s Birmingham office.

“This kind of regional investment has the potential not only to grow the local economy,” Jane continued, “but to shape its culture and identity in a positive way.”   

Empowering a generation

Testing the tech directly is just the beginning. Also important is creating the space for collaborations and empowering those working on long-term 5G-enabled, next-generation tools.

“There’s a difference between how people born before the internet and after it see things,” continued Omniflow’s Paulo who has partnered with another of the 5PRING cohort, sustainable construction company CurveBlock, which is implementing 5G into sustainable housing.

Working with another company on 5G services that are customer and citizen focused is, he says, “a perfect match.”

“That’s the whole point - to improve the quality of citizens’ daily life.”


Lizzie Tantam, PR manager
+44 207 007 2911 | Email Lizzie