Digital connectivity policy area

Page contents


About this policy

Principle

Avoid and reduce the number and length of trips needed by improving land use planning, travel planning and levels of digital connectivity.

Purpose

To promote and encourage access to high quality digital connectivity for all and provision of online public and community services.

Policy statement

Reliable, high performance digital connectivity (such as fibre broadband and comprehensive 5G coverage) improves access to education, training and employment opportunities, as well as access to online community services and travel information. Digital connectivity can therefore support inclusivity and social mobility, as well as reducing the need to travel and consequently reducing carbon emissions from transport.

Measures

Support extensive rollout of fibre broadband and 5G mobile coverage

Improving digital connectivity will require extensive rollout of fibre broadband and 5G mobile coverage to provide excellent connections for homes, businesses, and public organisations such as healthcare providers. This will need involvement and coordination from several parties and we will work with commercial and public sector partners to develop a masterplan for future digital infrastructure. This will set out a clear understanding of gaps and opportunities and the economic case for investment to accelerate rollout.

Support the development and raise awareness of online opportunities and services

We will work with partners to develop clear plans to support development and provision of online opportunities and services. This will include services provided by the county council, aligning with Surrey's Digital Strategy 2025 (PDF), which is intended to move the county's digital provision and use forward rapidly over the next 5 years. We will also work to raise awareness of online opportunities, activities and services to maximise their use and reduce the need to travel.


Contribution to LTP4 objectives

Net zero carbon emissions: Improved digital connectivity has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by reducing vehicle kilometres as people will be able to replace some trips with online activity.

Sustainable growth: Strong digital connectivity will bring significant benefits to Surrey's residents and businesses by reducing travel costs and time where online activities such as video meetings and appointments are possible and by widening the pool of potential employers, employees and customers where online working and sales are possible. Strong digital connectivity will also better support people to work from home or from community work hubs.

Well-connected communities: Provision of a greater number and wider range of digital services and opportunities online will remove the need for some people to travel to access the opportunities provided. This will help to improve social mobility by overcoming barriers to accessing opportunities and services, including an individual's physical mobility levels and the affordability of travel costs, especially where car ownership and use is needed.

Clean air and excellent quality of life: Measures to improve access to digital services and opportunities - such as working from home, retail, healthcare appointments and online training sessions - will result in increased access to opportunities and a reduced need for Surrey's residents and employees to travel. The reduction in vehicle trips will reduce the impact of traffic on communities' quality of life, improving local environments, road safety, air quality and noise pollution.


Delivery

Improved digital connectivity has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by reducing vehicle kilometres as people will be able to replace trips with online activity. However, it is important to note that there is a risk of a 'rebound effect', which could offset some of the carbon emissions savings. For instance, people who do not need to travel to work or appointments may use their newly 'freed-up' time to travel for other reasons or may make additional online orders and generate extra van delivery movements. There may also be implications for the energy sector of increased daytime household energy use.

Our measures therefore need to be carefully designed and applied in conjunction with other policy areas, particularly Planning for Place. If people live within 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' it is more likely that any 'rebound' trips will be short and therefore produce limited emissions, particularly if made on foot or by bike. Additionally, the neighbourhood is likely to include local delivery hubs to reduce the implications of increased home deliveries.


Policy context

Locally

  • Surrey Digital Strategy 2025 (PDF): Sets out how the county council's approach to digital will help enable improved outcomes for residents in Surrey over the next five years.
  • Community Vision for 2030: Everyone benefits from education, skills and employment opportunities that help them succeed in life'; 'everyone gets the health and social care support and information they need at the right time and place'; 'well connected communities with effective infrastructure that grow sustainably'
  • Surrey Climate Change Strategy: 'Reducing journeys' is a focus of the strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions in Surrey by 2050.
  • Digital infrastructure coverage: find out more about broadband and mobile deployment in Surrey and the planned gigabyte rollouts.