THE head of the Scotland’s new nerve centre set up to drive 5G has said its planned connectivity programme will help bring connections that will pave the way for thousands of tech jobs and tens of thousands in future smart manufacturing as well transforming the way business services operate.

Derek Boyd, interim director of Scotland 5G Centre said the opportunity is fast emerging for the country to lead Europe with growing numbers of PhD students, many linked to industry, being attracted to Scotland.

Test-beds that will offer industry the chance to establish viability in emerging technologies are already under development by the centre, which is funded by the Scottish Government and partnered with Strathclyde and Glasgow universities and Scottish Futures Trust but working on a national basis with a host of other academic institutions.

Its urban test at the new University of Glasgow campus is expected to see autonomous vehicles in use there in 2021 with testing also taking place for applications like sophisticated temperature gauges which could be fitted at airports that would help detect and prevent the spread of disease like coronavirus, while artificial applications will soon be a major boost to health services such as illness diagnosis.

In rural test-beds including Loch Lomond it is working towards providing communities with 5G connectivity by running broadband to a feeder site and then a mast linking homes an business to superfast services years ahead of 5G ambition of full fibre to every premises.

The first wave of projects also includes one relating directly to deployment of 5G in Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust are leading an "infrastructure deployment accelerator” and taking a register of pubic assets which can be used for siting mobile communication assets for "a new era that is coming fast".

Mr Boyd said: "There is a project to create an urban test-bed which will be on the new campus at University of Glasgow.

"So what we will see there is thousands of users in a very highly demanding environment, so students on their phone, there will be 5G coverage in the library, so we’ll be downloading masses and continually accessing the internet and all of this will be done through 5G interacting with wifi in ways that are entirely new."

Businesses will have access to the use of test-beds and will be able to use them to run experiments and to accelerate product development.

"Things that might be apparent there are things like building monitoring systems that can be moved up to a new level, we can be monitoring people to traffic flow, and you can even perform things like remote temperature sensing as people go through areas in terms of virus and disease outbreak control."

It comes as the Scottish Commission for Infrastructure called for full fibre to every premises by 2027 in our special series on connectivity. Experts also said that joint solutions would need to be found to connect communities before then in our special series on connectivity.

A Scottish Futures Trust-commissioned report found that if Scotland capitalises on opportunities presented by 4G and 5G, in just over 15 years Scotland’s GDP could increase by £17 billion and that annual tax revenues could rise £5.7bn as a result from 3,000 new businesses employing 160,000 more people.

Mr Boyd went on to say there is evidence emerging to show that Scotland could be at the forefront of future communications development.

"There is a good chance that Scotland could have more active student PhD researchers across its universities than any other country in Europe.

"I think with some of the investment that is going in to skills we have every opportunity to take that further and we could be Europe’s capital of PhDs into future communications systems which would be an amazing position."

He added: "We have to very much be part of the winds of change in early intervention and position Scotland as well as we can.

"It is really important that we promote Scotland’s capability internationally and we take the message out and in the post Brexit era we need to look at developing new international partnerships."

The University of Glasgow is currently undertaking a £1bn campus development programme, which will includes the redevelopment of the 14-acre site of the former Western Infirmary.