Corsham Institute

Ci was formed in 2013 to explore the opportunities and challenges of the digital society, both social and economic, focusing on shaping a future where individuals realise their full potential, as part of a highly-connected, always-on world.

The digital world, a little over 25 years old, stems from the invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. It took over 1,000 years for the analogue society to evolve, through rules, ethics and morality towards a set of cultural norms and behaviours. Ci focuses on how these policies, laws, regulations and the trust that binds society together, can be applied, adapted and reinvented for our digital society.

Ci works across Education and Research to connect existing and new capabilities and to build capacities for understanding and delivery.


Why Corsham?

Corsham is a southern Cotswold market town in Wiltshire, which together with the surrounding villages has a population of around 30,000 people and is also the location for the largest digital capacity in the UK with a legacy of communication and information infrastructure going back at least 175 years.

Before the 19th Century, it was a thriving town centred around the wool industry. The arrival of the Great Western Railway and specifically the opening of Brunel’s Box Tunnel in 1841 saw a transformation of the local economy and an enduring pattern of development.

During the excavation of the Box Tunnel the renowned engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, discovered a rich crop of green oolitic limestone. Known today as Bath Stone it became synonymous with the building of the intricate architecture of the Georgian period. Over the next 70 years the stone mines in Corsham employed over 2,500 people and extended to over 5 million square metres.

At the end of the First World War part of the mines were re-purposed to become the home to the Central Munitions Storage Facility and in 1939 other parts of the mine workings were transformed into shadow factories to support the Second World War.

In the early 1950s and as the Cold War started, areas under Corsham became part of the UK’s national critical infrastructure, as the site for Harold Macmillan’s emergency seat of Government, when a secret underground city was developed to house over 2,500 civil servants, for use in the event of a nuclear war.

In 2010, the Ministry of Defence consolidated its core communications and ICT activities onto a single site in Corsham to form the Global Operations and Security Control Centre and in 2016 the Government announced that a further £40 million would be spent on a new Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) centred on Corsham.

This activity has been mirrored by investment and development by the private sector with secure data centres located in Corsham and clusters of SME digital activity, making Corsham of strategic importance to the UK’s digital economy.

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