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7 West Midlands 5G-Enabled Road and Rail Trials Set to Go Live

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 (4:31 pm) - Score 888
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The state aid supported West Midlands 5G (WM5G) programme has today announced 7 UK-based consortiums, which will each share funding of £2.4m to support the development of new 5G (mobile broadband) based products and services to help “transform transport across the region.”

The WM5G programme forms part of the UK Government’s 5G Urban Connected Communities Project, which provided much of the funding (£20m). The chosen projects under this particular scheme are scheduled to run until the end of 2021, with many expected to complete ahead of that deadline, and each project will include trialling and testing of their service in the West Midlands region.

The aim is to either provide a use case to improve road and rail operational efficiency, better-connected transport, or to improve passenger experiences. The winning projects from the first round are as follows.

WM5G -The 7 Winning Projects (First Round)

Capacity Manager – Blacc, Immense, Elgin, University of Warwick, and O2
An innovative traffic management solution in which live traffic data is transferred in real-time over 5G to a dynamic road network model. Artificial intelligence working on the data provided, combined with historic event information will create scenarios that provide real-time insights, allowing incidents and congestion to be better managed. When proven, this will result in less congestion, with traffic flowing more freely – improving the experience of travelling around the region for work or leisure.

CURBS – Vortex IoT, National Express, BT/EE
Using Lidar sensors and advanced software, real-time 3D point-cloud data will be sent over 5G to provide up-to-date and detailed maps, monitoring roads and rail infrastructure. Following a successful trial, the system will provide live on-street parking information, identify the location of potholes, improve cyclist safety, reduce vehicle damage, and much more.

Passenger Management – GoMedia, Wordnerds and Icomera
An AI-led system – designed to improve passenger experiences and safety – provides intelligence in interpretation of live customer feedback over 5G. Immediate problems can be resolved and a database of categorised issues will provide insights for the operator to improve services. The aim is to enhance the traveller experience by improving the products and services available to passengers across the transport system.

Predikt – AppyWay and Getmapping
A predictive parking system that uses 5G-enabled kerbside imaging to reduce the amount of time spent finding a parking space. This could reduce the estimated £373 million spent each year in wasted time, fuel and emissions caused by drivers searching for a place to park. If successful, drivers will have access to highly accurate predictive availability of parking spaces, making their journeys quicker and reducing the time vehicles spend on the road.

Transport Accessibility – GoMedia and Icomera
Over 40% of the visually impaired are unable to make all or some of their journeys with public transport independently – with the help of 5G, this project will rectify that by creating a passenger service that will allow more visually impaired people to travel on public transport, helping to develop the transport system of the future for all.

Tram Safety – Icomera, Classone Systems, DigitalRail
Using 5G to stream CCTV footage from trams, images will be analysed real-time to detect people and objects. This will help to increase passenger safety, assist with social distancing, and identify where improvements to accessibility may be required. Passengers will benefit from a safer, more tailored service.

Urban Tourism – You. Smart. Thing., Landmrk, Imagemakers, and Oodl
Using 5G-enabled sensors at stations and major venues combined with booking and travel information, real-time traveller demand insights for rail and road networks will be created. ‘Last mile’ routes to destinations and investigations into how to influence travellers will be explored. This will provide a transport demand model for large cultural events – wholly enhancing the experience for those attending.

A second round of the funding competition for 5G-enabled road and rail trials will close on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 at 11:00am (here). A share of up to an additional £2.5 million is available to UK registered businesses under that round.

Chris Holmes, Programme Director – Transport at WM5G, said:

“We have been delighted with the response to this first competition, which was heavily oversubscribed, and are really pleased to be awarding the funding to projects that we truly believe – when proven – will transform transport within the region. We look forward to seeing what our new partners deliver and will support them in the realisation of real and tangible benefits.”

Earlier this year, WM5G also launched 5PRING – the UK’s first 5G “application accelerator” in Birmingham. Two further accelerators will follow in Coventry and Wolverhampton, and the facilities will provide private and public sector organisations with the opportunity to experience 5G first-hand and develop innovative new applications and services.

5PRING is being delivered in partnership with an O2-led consortium, including Wayra UK, Deloitte, Digital Catapult and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Local Growth Fund.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Michael V says:

    Now this is exciting times. All these are great uses for 5G-NR, really useful like parking spaces, security & everything else.
    Between all four Operators we could see different projects around the four nations of the UK.

  2. Avatar Anon says:


    Where is the 5G investment and development for people who live in the West Midlands, outside of cities?

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