Panel Talks from ‘The Rollout of SMART Infrastructure in the UK and How We Can Resist’ Meeting

Read Time:12 Minutes

Videos/transcript of panelist’s talks from Real Left’s recent public meeting in Stockport on SMART infrastructure, plus Piers Corbyn’s presentation on campaigning against ULEZ/CAZ.


Temora Yuile

Jonathan Tilt

Emily Garcia

Emily: So Temora’s given us a really good sort of introduction to this topic. She did say that I was speak in detail about local plans. I am going to speak a bit about local plans but most of the info I’m sharing is actually at the national level, because like Temora said, it’s a kind of copy and paste template, you know: what’s happening in one place, is happening everywhere else. So if you understand the big picture, you understand the parts.

A couple of caveats before I get into the information. Any kind of exploration of this subject that I can do in 20 minutes is going to be a heavily truncated and selective one. It’s impossible to do more in that time than just scratch the surface  of this gargantum, multi-faceted conspiracy against all forms of life. And the second caveat-sorry I’ve already done that caveat!

So, throughout this talk I’m going to keep using the word ‘SMART.’ So before I go much further I will define it. For anyone who doesn’t already know; ‘SMART’ in this context is an acronym, which stands for Self Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. As in your Self Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology phone, which is a key piece of infrastructure in the ‘data revolution’ age.

So aside from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or Clean Air Zones, what other recent changes have come to your notice- in your area, or maybe when you’ve travelled? SMART motorways? SMART LED street lights? SMART traffic lights? Trees chopped down in all kinds of urban locations? The sudden increase in the number of CCTV cameras in public places? Gates and bollards popping up in random places there doesn’t seem to be any need; like supermarket exits and pedestrian streets? Those are all ones that have come to my attention within the past few months. 

A look at the government’s 2020 National Infrastructure Strategy may be a starting place for shedding some light on these phenomenon. The NIS sets out a plan for: ‘a renaissance, backed by hundreds of billions of pounds of public and private investment. . .which will ensure the UK is at forefront of this technological revolution.’ This is going to be an ‘inclusive’ transformation as, ‘no citizen, community or business’ will be ‘left behind. . .by not being connected to the next stage of the digital revolution.Along with its ambitious Transport and Aviation Decarbonization Plans, part of a wider project to decarbonise the economy, the government is pouring 30 billion into Project Gigabit; a ‘major civil engineering project, requiring enough cabling to go around the Earth more than ten times.’

Project Gigabit is subsidising the rollout of UK wide Full Fibre gigabit-capable broadband including to ‘uncommercial’ remote rural locations. Whilst access to broadband speeds of over 1,000 Megabits per second (so forty times faster than standard superfast broadband)- whilst that might sound enticing, one could counter that enabling millions of UK citizens to download HD films in seconds, seems an odd priority for government spending, at a time when many have to use food banks to eat and cannot afford to heat their homes. This riddle is solved however, as we read, further in, ‘These speeds provide new opportunities across the UK, for consumers and businesses alike, and enable 5G technology.’[1] The gov plan to have achieved a minimum of 85% union wide coverage by 2025, will be in time for the Public Switched Telephone Network Switch Off that same year.

The PSTN switch off is when the old analogue Public Switched Telephone Network will be turned off, and every phone line in the UK will become digital, routing calls over Internet Protocol. BT state on their website that it’s time for us to ‘leap forward’ to embrace the boundless digital possibilities, including: apps, the cloud, and the Internet of Things, which Temora has spoken about a bit. For anyone not familiar, the Internet of Things is physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that are able to collect and exchange data via internet connectivity.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is fully on board with the Project, as he promises in the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint to deliver ubiquitous high speed digital connectivity across the whole city region by 2025, in order to ‘remove bandwidth as a barrier to our social, economic and public sector reform objectives.’ Installation to around 1600 Greater Manchester public sector sites was completed early last year, and most of the installation was done during the pandemic (or plandemic.) I clearly remember seeing roads being dug up and cables laid, out and about around Manchester, during the first lockdown.

So what kinds of innovative technological advancements can this all important 5G connectivity furnish us with? The’s ‘5G Testbed and Trial Program’ website page provides some answers. Close to home, the Rotherham based 5G Factory of the Future usesrobotic assembly, reconfigurable product assembly lines and distributed and shared Virtual and Augmented Reality to deliver RAF’s Tempest Future Fighter jet in half the time. Manchester is involved in a SMART junction pilot, connecting sensors at every junction to deliver AI traffic control systems. Meanwhile on the entertainment front, virtual and augmented reality streamed video is being trialled for everything from ‘immersive yacht racing’ to stadium sporting events and music festivals. MediaCity Lab in Salford, by the way, is a forerunner in commercial 5G coverage with a 5G Innovation Lab installed at The Landing.

If all this has peaked your interest into the ‘boundless possibilities’ of 5G, perhaps a good place to learn more would be at the Smart Classes headquarters’ up the road in Manchester city centre. Their upcoming ‘Public Realm & Urban Spaces,’ Smart class (free for public and private sector employees) promises such intriguing topics as:  Smart Internet of Things enabled lamp posts and litter bins, smart urban furniture (benches, chairs, tables etc), utilizing data to transform unused or ‘dumb’ spaces to digital displays and signage (for streets, shop fronts, etc), interactive road crossings, parking and traffic management, outdoor fitness systems, innovative playscapes, the encouragement of behavioural change and inclusivity, civil enforcement technologies, and, examining how innovation has helped the public realm to adapt to a Covid and post-Covid world; for example, by predicting footfall with technologies designed to monitor density, or maintaining social distancing with electronic tags, track and tracing applications, and CCTV. Innovation, by the way, is a semi coded buzz words in WEF agenda speak. Whenever you hear ‘innovation’ or ‘innovative,’ think transformation of a real world service, facility or product into its digital and data collecting 4th Industrial Revolution counterpart.

The Cambridge Centre for SMART infrastructure and Construction, in their Getting More From Strategic Assets’ paper-whose signatories include management staff from Network Rail, Crossrail and the London Underground, state that SMART Infrastructure is a global opportunity worth between £2 to 4.8 trillion. They say: ‘everyone in the infrastructure sector has a choice as to how fast they respond to the changes that Smart Infrastructure will bring. But everyone will be affected.’

The National Infrastructure Strategy explains: ‘Smart infrastructure is capable of collecting data about itself as it operates, which can then be used to inform real-world decisions. This is known as a “digital twin.”‘ The Centre for Digital Built Britain estimates the value of a National Digital Twin, that is: a joined up national grid of digital copies of all physical infrastructure such as railway networks and cities at £7 billion per year. Last year the BBC released a cheery article called, ‘Why you may have a thinking digital twin within a decade.’ They wrote: ‘the ownership of such digital twins will become one of the defining questions of the impending metaverse era.’

I’m going to use the subject of twins, to now segue, slightly awkwardly, onto what I believe are the dual pillars or twin narratives, or ideologies, being used to engineer consent from the general public for high tech totalitarian control. We have one evil twin, which is Zero Covid, and we have another possibly even eviler twin, which is Net Zero. They correspond to two major market opportunities that the flailing capitalist system is, through the Impact Investing framework, seeking to expand into i.e: human capital and natural capital. These two ideologies are often used interchangeably throughout official documents as a rationale for changes required by the profit model of the 4th Industrial Revolution. In NHS documents for example, ‘at home’ healthcare facilitated by remote surveillance, self management apps etc, is presented as beneficial progress, variously, because it’s protective against pandemic infection risk, or, because it eliminates the carbon footprint of travel to a healthcare facility.

The government’s National Infrastructure Strategy promises £12 billion of funding and a quarter of a million jobs through its’ 10 Point Plan For a Green Industrial Revolution. To help usher in these changes, in June last year, the UK Infrastructure Bank opened its doors at One Embankment, Leeds. Leeds is one of the two cities in England participating in the World Economic Forum created ‘G20 Global SMART Alliance project.’ (The other one is London.)

In the document ‘The Role of UK Infrastructure Bank in Natural Capital markets,’ the bank says: ‘Nature’s worth to society – that is, the true value of the various goods and services it provides – is not adequately reflected, as so much of it has no monetary charge attached. . .However, the tide is beginning to turn. Natural capital markets are emerging to put a price on the services provided by nature and create new opportunities to invest in them.Close quote. They have identified 3 key areas where a nascent market is emerging in the UK: biodiversity net gain, water services and the voluntary carbon market. What is the ‘voluntary carbon market?’ The document goes on: ‘to reach net zero by 2050, greenhouse gas removals through natural carbon sinks will be essential if the residual emissions arising from hard to decarbonise sectors. . . are to be compensated. To help mobilise private investment into the restoration and creation of natural carbon sinks, the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) and Peatland Code (PC) have been developed to provide credible government-certified carbon offset units that can be traded on the UK Voluntary Market. Carbon buyers, typically private companies, purchase these units to report against UK-based emissions. . .Scaling of nature-based solutions from their current low level will require significant land use change. . .The recent uptick in corporate demand for woodland and peatland carbon credits has led to heated land markets in some areas of the UK, and tensions between communities and project developers.’ Close quote. In order to save the planet from the ‘climate emergency’ we- habitat and biodiversity disturbing, carbon sink interfering nuisances-must be kept out of nature recovery and restoration areas. Meanwhile, in order for the rich to calculate how many woodland carbon, peatland carbon or biodiversity credits nature owes them, SMART sensors must be put in! Money might not grow on trees, but they must now contribute economically to the benefit of the wealthy, nevertheless.

In March, the UK Infrastructure Bank celebrated its first natural capital transaction, investing £12 million to restore temperate rainforests in Argyll in the Scottish Highlands, for the purpose of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. CEO of the bank, John Flint, commented: The Bank’s investment is intended to support the development of the science, data and understanding needed to deliver high integrity natural capital markets, in line with our mission to boost the innovative infrastructure technologies which will be essential to achieving Net Zero.”

Stockport and Greater Manchester, you’ll be relieved to know, are doing their bit to contribute towards Net Zero. Greater Manchester have backtracked on the introduction of a Clean Air Zone, but last Summer announced a Clean Air Plan in its place, detailing investment in zero emission buses. The One Stockport Borough Plan, in line with the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy, pledges to support the development of the green economy and businesses that will contribute to achieving reductions in carbon and eventually carbon zero. In a section headed ‘SMART places’ on the Digital Stockport website, it lists as a desirable outcome: scalable digital systems to enable automation and data sensing processes across the Borough to help meet climate action and other targets. The 2019 Greater Manchester Future Mobility Zone Proposal suggests car, bike and van share clubs as the green way forward for travel. Dynamic kerbside management will be part of the solution too, whereby goods vehicles, presumably driverless, book pavement slots to drop off deliveries at ‘mobility hubs.’ In this eco-utopia, mobility credits would allow more polluting vehicles to be traded in for a certain number of more ‘sustainable’ journeys. Evidence is provided of similar schemes in Stockholm, Sweden with the Ubigo app, and, the now completed, NaviGoGo pilot in North Fife and Dundee, Scotland, funded by Innovate UK. 

To end on a more hopeful note, I’m going to finish with a minute or two on ‘what we can do to resist’ or more accurately, what I’m doing to resist. You can decide if any of these have any relevance or resonance for you.

  1. I use a non SMART phone. This cost £20. They are available from any phone shop near you, the battery lasts for ages, it can’t receive emergency alerts, it stores and transmits minimal personal data (handy should you get arrested for lawful activities, which is happening more and more.) The list of advantages goes on! The ability to move around and carry out our daily activities without tracking and surveillance is an extremely important freedom.
  2. (I’m going to lose all the materialists in the audience for the next one.) I love orgonite. We are being bombarded by EMFs, with various negative health consequences. This is going to be stepped up to a new level in 2025 as I’ve spoken about it earlier. The good news is we have our own anti 5G people’s tech in the form of orgonites. Orgonites are chi or life force or orgone energy generators really good to hold and have around, are protective against EMFS, animals and plants love them and they’re fairly inexpensive.
  3. So the third and final one. Taking care of my health. We cannot count on there being an NHS available for us in the future, or even now. It’s on us as individuals to stay as physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy as possible, because we are under attack on all these levels. The good news is there is a lot on offer outside of the NHS and the conventional medical paradigm in general. If this is something you are interested in, I will be facilitating a workshop on ‘Building an alternative healthcare system’ after the break so please join me.

Piers Corbyn

[1] National Infrastructure Strategy, Page 31

One thought on “Panel Talks from ‘The Rollout of SMART Infrastructure in the UK and How We Can Resist’ Meeting

  1. Thank you for sharing highlights of this very important conference internationally. I am excited that this movement is expanding to Australia and seek its further expansion globally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.