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National challenges


We are helping IT and telecoms industries to utilise emerging technologies such as 5G, quantum devices and graphene, and to harness the power of big data for social and economic good

Helping the UK become a world leader in emerging technologies

Digital technologies permeate modern life, affecting everything from the way we work and travel, to the way we live and play. The blending of the real and digital worlds presents significant opportunities for increasing economic growth and wellbeing, whilst helping to address global challenges of productivity, population size, scarcer resources and climate change.

Measurement and standards are key to an effective digital infrastructure, providing confidence that will accelerate societal engagement with all things digital. The cornerstone of the NPL's digital sector strategy is therefore to embed measurement into processes using digital and data science, delivering confidence in the intelligent and effective use of data and emerging technologies.

NPL is helping the UK become a world leader in emerging technologies, such as 5G, network technologies, quantum devices and graphene, and harness the power of big data and future communications for social and economic good. Working with our partners across the UK, we apply the latest advances in measurement science to provide assurance across the entire digital ecosystem, whether in the intelligent and effective use of data, the quality and accuracy of signals, or in the ability of new digital products to achieve what they claim.

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Case study

Optimising the mechanical properties of nanocomposites


Case study

Installation of an RF antenna range in China


Case study

Exploiting new analytical techniques for imaging organic electronics


Reproducibility in research

The role of measurement science. Recommendations for the infrastructure underpinning digital transformation


Measurement challenges

The measurement needs can be viewed as three interconnected activities, representing the data lifecycle: improved collection of data; improved connection of data; and improved comprehension of data.  Between them, these lead to increased confidence in intelligent and effective use of data.

The major technical and measurement priorities identified through industry consultation for digital are:

  • Enhancing traceable, ubiquitous and embedded measurement to industrial processes and networks of sensors and devices, from development of new materials and electronics for sensors through to network design
  • Developing devices and technologies that are different, yet interoperable, and are prepared for rapid introduction into future communications network scenarios in a secure manner
  • Establishment of secure, traceable and authenticated digital approaches that confer verifiable assurance of quality to raw and processed data sets
  • Establishment of a national test and evaluation service and capability in quantum technologies, to support organisations developing new products, build confidence in new technologies and accelerate commercialisation

Building confidence through embedded measurement


Delivering impact for the UK

The NTC programme will provide the resilience needed to protect critical national infrastructure, keep essential services running and ensure trust in new technologies. It will enable the UK to move away from reliance on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), like GPS, and leverage a range of time and frequency distribution technologies including fibre, communication satellites, and terrestrial broadcasts, as well as GNSS.

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NPL's key work streams

NPL's priority actions align with the Industrial Strategy and 5G strategy, to validate performance and improve resilience, reliability and traceability:   

  • Support the UK's drive to be a global leader in future communications, including networks and digital technology. We're leading an EU-wide project to ensure that 5G is a success, developing and testing new infrastructure, signals and real-world environmental factors affecting 5G performance.
  • Support the UK's drive to be a global leader in quantum technologies. We're opening new, world-class laboratories to expand our work on quantum technologies and provide industry with access to world-leading test and evaluation facilities to accelerate commercialisation. We're provide precise timing services to underpin financial trading, and have developed a miniature atomic clock, paving the way for advances in navigation, energy and communication networks.
  • Deliver Data Confidence in the Intelligent and Effective Use of Data. We're developing standards to turn data into decisions, to aid the commercial exploitation of data and the information derived from it, and ensure it can be used to deliver benefit to every aspect of society, from personalised healthcare to climate change modelling.
  • Support autonomous technology on land, sea and in the air. Building trust and integrity in integrated sensors and data will facilitate the adoption of driverless vehicles, drones and tractors, to increase the productivity of farming by using sensors to monitor fields and crops.

About us

Our team combines professionals with experience in industry, consultancy, non-profit organisations, science and innovation. The team sets NPL's digital strategy, assessing UK and international market drivers and policy developments. We work closely with our scientists to inform NPL's approach to current and foreseeable industrial challenges. We create partnerships with key stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sectors to help drive innovation. Contact us to find out more about our digital work.

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Find out more about the range of work we do in digital.

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
Contact our Customer Services team on +44 20 8943 7070