PA Consulting supports development of new sensor technologies

18 November 2020 3 min. read

Professional services firm PA Consulting is collaborating with the University of Birmingham, BAE Systems, BT and BP to help develop a new generation of sensor technology. The initiative will look to create and integrate new ways of knitting together some of the UK’s most crucial infrastructure.

According to UN estimates, some 6.5 billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050 – more than double the number now. In order to withstand the pressure on infrastructure that this centralisation of populations will bring, smart cities – referring to a concept by which cities’ traditionally offline systems such as water supply networks are brought online and connected to sophisticated analysis and control systems – will be essential. Sensor technology, monitoring and controlling access to life’s most important resources, is crucial for such future development.

It is already estimated that a critical failure of sensor technology in the UK would cause the economy to lose £5.2 billion in the first five days alone. With the clear need for more sophisticated ‘system of systems’ to can knit together critical infrastructure in the UK, a new collaboration between the nation’s Government, academic and industrial sectors has been announced.

PA Consulting supports development of new sensor technologies

Looking to create a ‘road map’ for action, the unprecedented initiative will be driven by the Government-funded UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme led by and based at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Kai Bongs, Principal Investigator of the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, said, “This venture is a call to overcome sectoral boundaries and join forces to address challenges such as well-being in an ageing society; fast broadband for everyone; productivity in infrastructure; resilient navigation; security of autonomous transport; and reduced carbon emissions. Working together, this extraordinary and powerful partnership will produce the creativity and innovation that is crucial to the creation of new sensors. These will be integral to resolving major economic and societal challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Alongside the University of Birmingham, BAE Systems, BT and BP – three of the largest corporations on the FTSE100 – are working together to enable the development and integration of new sensing technologies. At the same time, PA Consulting, an advisory firm specialising in accelerating the pace of innovation and transformation cross industry, will bring its own know-how to the collaboration to help identify cross-sectoral synergies where the partnership can bind together.

Paul Martin, Quantum Technology Expert at PA Consulting, commented, “This is an exciting development to provide ingenious leadership in key markets for quantum sensing. The opportunity to scale technology for commercial benefit is huge – we are delighted to help bring it to life.”

PA is also helping the UK to get more young people to engage with the infrastructure work. Earlier in the year, PA Consulting's Ann Zhang was appointed Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission’s Young Professionals Panel. Panel members will be asked to help improve the Commission’s engagement with younger generations over the coming two years.