Sunderland City Council is celebrating the announcement of not one, but two nominations for digital leadership and city-wide digital transformation, placing Sunderland firmly in the top ten leading smart cities across the UK.

Already confirmed as one of the Digital Leaders 100 (DL100) List, today’s shortlist nomination means that Sunderland City Council’s Chief Executive, Patrick Melia, has made it into the top 10 in the Digital Leader of the Year 2020 category, and the city has been shortlisted for Smart City of the Year 2020.

The Awards, now in their seventh year, are due to take place on Thursday 15th October in Leeds. The event recognises and reveals the exceptional achievements of the UK’s leading Smart Cities as well as the outstanding efforts of the digitally focused individuals that lead them.

The Digital Leaders programme recognises that strong leadership plays a critical role in driving forward digital transformation across UK cities. The Digital Leader of the Year award is for an individual whose actions have made them stand out over the past year as a catalyst for change in their sector.


Similarly, the award for Smart City of the Year recognises places that have advanced their smart agenda fastest and furthest in the past year, making use of data and technology to generate sustainable economic development, creating efficiencies and enhancing quality of life for people living and working there.

Patrick Melia, chief executive at Sunderland City Council, said: “I am honoured to be recognised amongst some of the UK’s principal leaders of digital transformation.

“The past year has seen us take huge strides towards some ambitious goals, fast becoming one of the leading Smart Cities across the UK. Our digital infrastructure will be key to how Sunderland recovers from the current Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that this work with partners in the public and private sector is now even more important.”

Patrick’s was shortlisted in recognition of his ambition for Sunderland to become a connected, international city with opportunities for all, and his understanding that next generation fibre and mobile infrastructure is vital to connect people and organisations and deliver transformational change.

The council’s lead in employing a 5G WiFi network in less than three months to benefit some of the most disadvantaged, ensured that Sunderland’s Smart City programme delivered immediate benefits for people in those communities.

Patrick added: “To receive acknowledgement of our efforts as a council-led team working in partnership with numerous valued experts, in the form of a national award nomination for Sunderland, is both humbling and deeply deserved by the whole team.”

The city’s focus on rapid implementation has proven to be a key progressive factor in Sunderland’s success story. As one of the first cities in the UK deploying a 5G ready operational network to deliver ultrafast Wi-Fi to key city centre locations, makes the city of Sunderland smarter and opens up a world of opportunity for individuals and businesses alike.

From digitally enabling coding clubs in schools, to assistive technologies within social housing stock and immersive experiences in the High Street; the council’s agile approach has enabled the delivery of a range of transformational use cases. Planned expansion phases will bring in SMEs and public/third sector bodies to stimulate the increase in digital connectivity across Sunderland.

Amidst a wealth of entries showcasing some of the very best smart strategies from across the country, Sunderland has been recognised for its rapid progress as a leading UK Smart City with underpinning transformational leadership from the chief executive, Patrick.

Patrick continued: “It’s an exciting journey and I look forward to continuing to play my part in positioning Sunderland at the forefront of digital revolution across the UK and beyond.”

The DL100 (Digital Leaders 100) List is created by public vote and celebrates the teams and individuals who are working hard behind the scenes to secure the UK’s Digital Transformation.

Following the announcement of shortlisted individuals, organisations and cities, the public vote is now open to help determine the final order and category winners and vote for Sunderland.