Hundreds of visitors enjoyed a glimpse of a 5G future at the West of England Combined Authority’s 5G Smart Futures showcase on Saturday (16 March) – unveiling the results of the UK’s most ambitious 5G testbed to date.
People flocked to the centre of Bristol to immerse themselves in the world of 5G and learn more about the networks and technology behind the 5G network, at We The Curious, Mshed, Bristol VR Lab and in Millennium Square.
Visitors took part in a variety of interactive pursuits ranging from virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to 360° video and locative media, allowing them to sample a wide range of the future applications of 5G technology and its potential to transform tourism and commercial activity in the West of England, as well as supporting the emergency services and managing safety at events.
One of the highlights was “Orchestrating the Orchestra” – believed to be a world’s first 5G experience – which successfully synchronised three classical musicians across inter-connecting 5G testbeds in Bristol, Digital Catapult and The Guildhall in London without any lag. The event attracted so much interest that the crowd spilled out in to the entrance hall of We The Curious.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “It’s been a terrific few days for our 5G Smart Tourism project – from launching our findings in Bath on Friday, to sharing a 5G future with Saturday’s successful public showcase and highlighting the progress we’ve made with tech sector specialists at a special event in London’s Digital Catapult.
“People are already beginning to come forward with exciting ideas about how 5G could make a difference in a variety of areas; with potential future applications building on what we’ve discovered through our 5G Smart Tourism work.”
The showcase marked the culmination of a year-long 5G Smart Tourism project looking at new 5G technology using the 5G testbed infrastructure in the West of England, developed by the University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab. It brought together experts who have been working to demonstrate the ground-breaking power and potential of 5G to show off their progress, offering a vision of what a 5G-enabled future allows.
The 5G work underpins the West of England’s ambitions to create a Smart City Region – scaling-up the benefits of projects such as 5G Smart Tourism and securing new opportunities for investment and trade in the West of England.
Regional Mayor Tim Bowles will travel to Taiwan next week to present learning from the West of England 5G project at the Smart Cities Summit and Expo. Attracting 40,000 delegates from more than 60 countries and 1,000 exhibitors, it is one of the largest events of its kind in the world. The Mayor will meet senior figures from Taiwanese government and business to explore opportunities for future collaboration.
Tim Bowles added: “The West of England is well placed to become a smart region – we are already recognised as a centre of excellence, as home to the largest cluster of digital expertise outside London. We are ambitious to help support a commercial roll out of 5G infrastructure in the West of England and we see 5G as having a role in helping us address mobility across the region and in helping with digital inclusion.”
The £8.2m 5G Smart Tourism project was led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), and part-funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It brought together 19 organisations and oversees the creation of a testbed to demonstrate 5G capability, establishing the West of England as a world-leader in the development of advanced fixed and mobile communication systems.