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The power of public private partnerships

by Nick Gurney

16 November 2022

This blog is part of our three-part ‘Reimagining connectivity’ series exploring the future of telecommunications in Australia and beyond.

For a few weeks in the summer of 2032, the world will descend on Brisbane, Queensland, for the Summer Olympic Games. Hosting and supporting an event of this scale will require advanced network infrastructures to underpin the applications and services to optimise the experience for the public and maximise outcomes for the participating organisations. A public private partnership (PPP) that brings together business and government is the best way to achieve the connectivity to support massive projects like the Olympics as well as other large-scale initiatives for developing smart communities and transportation systems.

Progress through partnership

In a PPP, one or more government agencies and private-sector companies work together to finance, design, build and operate the proposed infrastructure. PPPs present an innovative and powerful alternative to traditional infrastructure delivery models, which often involve disparate stakeholder groups and multiple agencies without a unified vision. In contrast, PPPs typically take a holistic, long-term approach to achieve transformative outcomes.

This approach often leads to more cost-efficient and effective solutions, thanks in part to the private sector’s ability to assume costs and risks a government agency may not be able to take on. Capitalising on the private sector’s risk management capabilities can also be critical for a project’s success.

What makes a successful public private partnership?

For a PPP to prosper and deliver on its full potential, the following are essential:

  • Adequate concession time to provide a return for both parties
  • A broad scope of technology and services to ensure all components can communicate with each other and work together
  • A shared commitment to work toward the same outcomes
  • Strong governance to manage changing circumstances through the length of the agreement
  • Clear measurements to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) as well as social benefits and customer experience/satisfaction
  • Agile decision-making to avoid progress being slowed by overly complex processes

Partnerships in action

At BAI Communications, we have broad experience with large-scale telecommunications connectivity transformation. In New York City and Toronto, we enable millions of daily subway commuters to stream content, shop online, access social media and more through our cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, Mass Transit Railway (MTR) commuters in Hong Kong benefit from our expertise in delivering high-quality networks designed to operate in highly complex transportation systems.

Over the last few years, we have secured several major projects that have allowed us to demonstrate how beneficial private investment in public infrastructure can be in achieving transformative outcomes like these. Our work with Transport for London (TfL) and the City of Sunderland are prime examples.

Transforming the ‘Tube’

BAI was awarded a 20-year concession by TfL in June 2021 to deliver mobile connectivity on the Underground. Once complete, customers will be able to make calls wherever they are on the Underground, check the latest travel information, keep on top of their emails, catch up on social media and live stream videos, transforming the passenger experience and securing London’s transformation into a smart city. TfL’s transformation will also serve as a leading example for other cities keen to embrace the benefits of smart city technologies and private investment in public infrastructure can help turn their vision into reality.

Future-proofing Sunderland

A large and bustling northern UK city, Sunderland’s visionary leadership established a plan to create a well-connected, digitally enabled city with world-class infrastructure supporting inclusive services for the prosperity of its citizens, businesses and visitors.

In 2021, BAI and Sunderland City Council announced a 20-year strategic partnership to realise this vision. Part of that involves building a new 5G network, successfully making transformative digital services available across a whole range of sectors including manufacturing, logistics, education and social care.

Such services can make a real impact beyond purely commercial considerations. For instance, this partnership will enable the deployment of assistive technologies for vulnerable people. Sensors and IoT devices will establish remote monitoring to detect abnormal behaviours and provide a higher level of in-home safety. Just as importantly, the partnership will help reduce social problems caused by digital exclusion and boost community well-being by creating hundreds of jobs.

Advancing connectivity demands partnership

BAI is keen to replicate its overseas success to advance connectivity transformation across Australia and help create digital equity. By working closely with us, partners can draw on and benefit from our expertise, make fewer mistakes, waste less time, spend money in the most efficient way and reach their goals faster.

Raising awareness of the advantages of partnership is an important first step. With more powerful PPPs on the horizon, we will continue to lead the way in delivering digital connectivity solutions that make a real difference.

Nick Gurney

Telecommunications Director, BAI Communications Australia

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