BT Street Hubs go live in Birmingham

Birmingham is the latest UK city to benefit from BT’s new digital street units, with the first three units unveiled in Sutton Coldfield today, and more to follow across the city over the next few months.

As part of the launch, local businesses in Birmingham are being given the chance to advertise for free on the new Street Hub units.

BT is donating up to £7.5 million of outdoor advertising space to small businesses across the UK, as it continues its nationwide roll out of its new Street Hub 2.0 units – which help build the UK’s digital infrastructure and include services such as ultrafast Wi-Fi, an emergency call button and rapid mobile device charging.

The launch comes as a recent BT study found that more than 60 per cent of small businesses agree that local advertising would help to increase awareness of their business, with 40 per cent saying it would encourage more people to shop at their local high street. However, almost half (49 per cent) said that cost was a major obstacle to them investing in local Out Of Home (OOH) advertising. BT is now taking action to remove one of the biggest barriers to adoption, with the Street Hub’s digital advertising screens designed to help small firms attract more customers to high streets.

The new digital units can also help local councils achieve their social and economic improvement and sustainability goals. With Birmingham City Council aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, each Street Hub 2.0 unit is to be fitted with air quality and CO2 sensors.

Birmingham participated in the first trials of air quality data monitoring with BT in 2019, with data collected from modular sensors installed on first generation Street Hubs units. The sensors provided insight to a group of researchers and scientists, led by the University of Birmingham, to help monitor air pollution in the area.

With the next generation Street Hubs, Birmingham City Council can benefit from real-time, actionable data on Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM1, 2.5 and 10). Expanding air quality monitoring across the city will provide Birmingham City Council with the insight needed to take action to improve air quality, contributing to the health and wellbeing of local people.

Street Hubs can also help to enhance digital connectivity and services for communities through features such as ultrafast Wi-Fi, access to  charity helplines, and local wayfinding via an integrated tablet.

Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Brigid Jones, said: “The last couple of years has seen a devastating impact on many of our local businesses, charities and community organisations. I hope our communities and voluntary sector organisations use this opportunity to raise awareness of the fantastic work they are doing to support our communities and local centres.  We welcome this digital investment by BT, enhancing Birmingham’s growing reputation as a welcoming place for digital innovation and investment.”

Rebecca Hambleton, Street Manager at BT, said: “We hope that, by gifting free digital advertising space via our new Street Hub units, we can give small businesses in Birmingham an extra boost. Our new Street Hub units can play a vital role in rejuvenating local high streets – whether that’s through building greater awareness of small businesses through free advertising, boosting local digital infrastructure or helping cities to reach their sustainability goals.

“It’s great to see the new units will shortly be providing valuable ‘real time’ data on air quality for the local council, helping to keep Birmingham a clean city to live and visit.”

Andy Thompson, Owner of Live @ Level One, a 200-plus capacity live music venue in Sutton Coldfield benefiting from free advertising on the new units, said: “I’m already a relentless marketer, promoter, and advertiser but I’m limited to the avenues that we can afford as a small business. Local advertising opportunities, like those provided by BT’s new Street Hub 2.0 units, offer more exposure, and give new local businesses like mine a greater chance of survival and success.”

BT’s latest study also revealed that around two thirds (66 per cent) of local businesses think that mobile connectivity could be improved in their local community, to help them work faster and smarter. BT’s new Street Hub 2.0 units will enhance local digital infrastructure by including the option to install mini mobile masts or ‘small cells’ on the structure to further boost 4G and 5G coverage in the local area.

Subject to local planning processes, BT is aiming to roll out around 300 of its new Street Hub 2.0 units across the UK in the next 12 months, working closely with local councils and communities.

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