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5G - Connecting Very Rural Communities

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This two-day physical conference and exhibition is being curated with the express purpose of demonstrating the benefits emerging from the UK’s 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, and to matchmake with investment and partnership opportunities to accelerate the move to market adoption. The event was targeted at senior stakeholders from the investment community, government, industry and the public sector, from the UK and across the globe.

LU presented their socio-technical findings and experiences from the MANY project.

Professor Katy Mason and Dr Sharon Wagg are the social science research team on the Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) project.  Their role, as management practice scholars, has been to undertake community-based research and to evaluate the project’s ability to build an effective digital market infrastructure using 5G. The objective of their role has been to guide and underpin the MANY project through social science insights, using Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles to guide action and to generate business and social innovation for socio-economic flourishing in place. This has involved collaborating with project partners in relation to the MANY project’s four use cases, talking directly with community members and businesses from very rural North Yorkshire communities, and drawing on social practice theories to guide action. Essentially the Lancaster University research team has taken on a bridging role as ‘knowledge activists’ by continuously and deliberately working across the institutional boundaries of the project and joining-up what might otherwise be a disconnected ensemble of stakeholders.

Research by the Lancaster University Management School team have produced a project toolkit, guiding the work required to engage communities with the form and functionality of 5G infrastructures as they are put in place and the challenges faced as the project unfolded and progressed. The toolkit is based on their research insights and learning from the MANY project. To deliver effective community engagement and enrolment, complex digital infrastructure projects must seek to capture the plurality of voices within a community and explore the underlying concerns and aspirations of individuals; identify patterned concerns and aspirations and work with the project’s technical team to see how these can be taken into account in the infrastructure design and application; and select key team members to act as knowledge activists  so that a holistic and joined-up approach to place and space can be determined through the actions of the project. By presenting a series of principles that guide action in the development and delivery of digital infrastructure projects for very rural areas, the team hopes to stimulate further inquiry into the dynamic interactions among and government policymakers, communities, and digital infrastructure projects. This research could be critical in driving the levelling-up agenda and directly targeting digital poverty transformation.

Event (Exhibition)

TitleUK 5G Showcase
Degree of recognitionInternational event