Almost all Britons 'will soon be connected to the digital world' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Britain will soon be a place where almost all citizens are "connected, in one way or another, to the digital world".

That's according to Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which recently provided a £9.8 million grant for the new Internet of Things (IoT) Research Hub.

The IoT is composed of everyday physical objects that have the capacity to connect with one another and exchange data via Wi-Fi. Examples include smart televisions and thermostats that can be remotely monitored and operated.

In order to improve the UK's potential and capabilities in this field, the government has created an interdisciplinary research centre bringing together nine leading universities, known as the Petras consortium.

The institutions will explore issues relating to privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability and security.

This will be part of the wider IoTUK programme, a £40 million, three-year project designed to advance Britain's global leadership in the sector and encourage adoption of high-quality technologies.

Discussing the significance of the IoT, Professor Nelson said: "Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves and the wider virtual world.

"But, before this can happen, there must be trust and confidence in how the Internet of Things works, its security and its resilience. By harnessing our world-leading research excellence this Petras research hub will accelerate IoT technology innovation and bring benefit to society and business."

The government is also pursuing a project to extend superfast broadband access to 90 per cent of the UK by the end of this year.

However, people living in some rural areas and remote locations - such as the Scottish island of Skye - have complained about the ongoing inadequacy of their internet speeds.