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The 5G Smart Tourism project was led by the West of England Combined Authority and funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). It brought together over 20 organisations to expand the 5G testbed infrastructure in the West of England, developed by the University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab, to explore novel 5G technologies and services.

Originally set to be a year-long project, a six-month extension was granted to build on the ground-breaking research and development work that had been carried out.

Digital experts teamed up with some of the region’s biggest tourist attractions, including The Roman Baths, We the Curious, M Shed and Millennium Square to demonstrate the ground-breaking potential of 5G for the tourism sector.

The project held two region-wide showcases that attracted hundreds of visitors to experience the future of visitor attractions, including a live demonstration at the Bristol Harbour Festival. Across the events, visitors enjoyed a glimpse of a 5G future using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), 3D motion tracking, and 4k 360º content streaming. Behind the scenes, 5G enabled network slicing was developed to prioritise connectivity for incident response in the case of a public emergency.

5G Use cases

The BBC presents an exciting opportunity to test the capabilities of 5G in a visitor attraction setting (The Roman Baths). The use case offers a ‘window through time’ and interactive visitor experiences by investigating different technical approaches. Video and images make up the VR experience to transport the user through time. This use case investigates two technical approaches to stress different aspects of 5G performance.

Zeetta Networks shows how 5G technology can be used to enhance the planning, management and incident response within an urban setting. This is of particular use at large public gatherings, such as festivals, concerts or fairs. An essential characteristic in defining a 5G network is the ability to provide a unified view of the network’s architecture for control, slicing and orchestration.

The product aims to bring the experience to life and give tourists the ability to experience and walk around a high-quality representation of a place in VR, while physically walking around a real indoor space, without the burden of wearing uncomfortably heavy hardware.

The product consists of a VR headset with a tracking system attached, retro-reflective stickers stuck to the ceiling of the physical space for the system to track, and a wireless 5Ghz up and downlink to communicate between the headset and a remote server running the experience.

To track the tourists as they walk around freely in the physical world while exploring the virtual world, the product incorporates a 6DOF (position and angle) positioning device using StarTracker technology.

Mativision is using 5G to overcome barriers in current technology. They have developed a product that allows many users to experience the same VR reality at the same time. The purpose of this product is to assess how this technology can perform when a 5G networking infrastructure is used, and to what extent those limitations can be overcome.

Smartify’s goal for the project is to implement digital initiatives that can deliver a better pre- during and post-visit visitor experience that not only secures lasting connection with the venue and maximizes the ROI but, more importantly, provides a better engagement with younger audiences who currently expect a digital interaction on the sites.

Video credit: University of Bristol

[Ambient instrumental music plays in the background]. The video opens with the Bristol University logo and shows imagery of Bristol and the smart tourism event and is narrated with:


Ben Thomas – Senior Research Associate, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol:

So the 5G Smart Tourism Test Bed is a technical test bed hosted at the Smart Internet Lab, where we invite some small and medium sized enterprises, as well as some of the large players like the BBC, to come into the University and to test some of the bold, crazy ideas that they have got about what could run on 5G and what the future might hold.


Dr. John Harris – Research Fellow, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol:

The University of Bristol’s Smart internet Lab has been instrumental in delivering this test bed for the project. We have liaised across a number of partners and coordinated all of our activities to ensure that the test bed is delivered smoothly in advance of the 15th and 16th March showcase.


Prof. Dimitra Simeonidou – Director of the Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol:

The Orchestrating the Orchestra Demo is really a world first. We place musicians in three different places, but because of the very low latency of the 5G networks, the concert had the feeling like the musicians were playing in exactly the same venue.


Navdeep Uniyal – Senior Research Associate, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol:

We are doing it through an interconnection infrastructure which is available in Slough and is orchestrated by the 5GUK Exchange.


Dr. John Harris – Research Fellow, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol:

The Smart Tourism project and 5G in general offer some really exciting opportunities to members of the public. We’re thinking applications like virtual reality, augmented reality, super low latencies and the ability to connect to the environment and other people in ways that perhaps wasn’t available before.


  •  March 2018 – September 2019


  • DCMS funding: £5m
  • Total project value: £ 8m


  • 3-Sixty
  • Aardman
  • BBC R&D
  • BT
  • Bath and North East Somerset council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Bristol Futures Global
  • Bristol Is Open
  • Bristol VR Lab
  • Business West
  • CCS
  • Destination Bristol
  • Digital Catapult
  • IBI
  • Interdigital
  • Landmrk
  • Mativision
  • Mo – sys
  • M-Shed
  • Smartify
  • The Grand Appeal
  • University of Bristol
  • Watershed
  • Zeetta Networks