5GIC and Digital Greenwich form partnership to develop 5G smart city technology
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

​The University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) in Guildford and Digital Greenwich, part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, will use their facilities and expertise to deliver 5G technology for resource-efficient, low-carbon, healthy and livable neighborhoods within a smart city.

The 5GIC, which claims to be the largest European research centre dedicated to the development of the next generation of mobile and wireless communications, is working to create a network that can provide 99.999 per cent reliability and coverage, with the aim of connecting one million devices per square kilometre and more than 300 per cent more connectivity than can be provided with 4G. The 5GIC has already developed a technology that enables speeds of one terabit per second (Tbps) – more than a thousand times faster than the highest 4G speed – and filed more than 15 patents. This was revealed on its official opening, which took place in September 2015.

Digital Greenwich will host a 5G Smart City Incubator space for innovators and entrepreneurs to work on new technology that will link transport, mobility, logistics, energy, healthcare and education. This will be supported by 5GIC, which will provide the technological foundations on which Digital Greenwich can build test beds and trials leading to commercial smart city solutions. Work has already begun on applying 5G technology in connected health and cars.

“5G is supposed to provide connectivity for the connected society and digital economy and under the umbrella of that there are many applications and other vertical industries that need to be modernised with ICT and wireless connectivity technologies,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of 5GIC and the Institute of Communication Systems. “We decided to focus initially on connected health and connected cars and some of the applications which relate to the smart city environment like the street lighting and mainly the city services. We’re doing that through the intelligent connectivity that 5G is going to bring.”

The Royal Borough of Greenwich and Digital Greenwich are also working on a smart city strategy to set out how the Council proposes to implement approaches to cope with future challenges related to transport, health, energy and the built environment. It aims to create new opportunities for businesses and local communities, securing business regeneration and growth.

Matt Hancock, the minister of state for digital and culture, said: "We want to make Britain the most digitally advanced of all nations. We are already a world leader in the development of 5G technology, so I'm delighted by the new partnership between the University of Surrey and Digital Greenwich. Collaborations like this will help make our cities better places in which to live, to work, and to play."

“The 5G standardisation process is on-going, so what we’ve done in the UK is to come up with new novel technologies which reach the [5G] requirements in order to have a very loud voice in the standardisation processes and meetings – getting our technologies involved with the support of our industry partners,” added Tafazolli.

A 5G standardised approach will provide the opportunity to scale solutions towards a wider city and national level.

Adrian Scrase, CTO of ETSI, said: "ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and welcomes this type of partnership where next generation systems are co-created with the end sectors who will gain the most benefit from the technology. Having Greenwich and Surrey working together will ultimately help to define next generation technology is fit for purpose and can be practically implemented in a real environment. ETSI looks forward to the results of this partnership being fed back into the standardisation process."

"Fundamental to next generation Smart City applications is the creation of a robust communications systems," added Tafazolli. "Working with Digital Greenwich will enable the 5GIC to develop solutions targeted at multiple use cases in a city context. The partnership will also provide the foundation to drive standardised solutions for all of the UK to benefit from the technology.”

Cllr Denise Hyland, leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, commented: "I am delighted to welcome the 5G Innovation Centre to the Royal Borough of Greenwich as a highly respected partner and as a valuable catalyst to our comprehensive smart city strategy. I am confident that this engagement will help strengthen our economy and deliver the best possible services to Greenwich businesses and residents."

Another development in the region called GATEway, involving Telefónica Group – a founding partner of the 5GIC – is currently taking place and will see three public trials of zero emission, automated vehicles.

The first will be automated shuttle transport on the Greenwich peninsula. The second will be autonomous valet parking of cars, enabling users to exit their vehicle while it finds a specified parking space autonomously. The third trial is to be defined based on the findings from the other trials and feedback from stakeholders.

The consortium also includes RSA Insurance Group and Shell, which will contribute their expertise to the project and build an understanding as to how automated vehicles may influence their business models.

Commenting on the 5GIC developments for a smart city, Dr Mike Short CBE, VP, Telefónica Group, said: "5G will only be successful if we blend real world experience with the new technologies of 5G, alongside existing infrastructure such as transport and energy. Greenwich together with 5GIC support represents a great place to explore the application of new technology within part of one of the largest cities in the world."

Image: 5GIC


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