Bristol tests Smart Digital technology to improve safety in the iconic harbour

South West | Technology

The WECA led 5G Smart Tourism project has announced the successful first phase test of its 5G simulation safety demonstration designed to help protect Bristolians and visitors to Bristol round the city’s Harbourside.

Undertaken in Autumn 2018, the project achieved this first significant milestone using the University of Bristol’s 5G delivery, Bristol is Open’s Network and devices with network slicing from Zeetta Networks, where waterside safety information was relayed to a central control point, the Bristol Operations Centre, with onward connection to the appropriate Emergency Service.

Most major cities throughout the world have established waterways running through their cityscape and potential incidents of falling in the water can have an impact on a city’s emergency services and operational control rooms. The purpose behind the 5G simulation was to trial new ways of detecting incidents with pinpoint accuracy and to improve response rates.

Bristol is Open alongside Bristol City Council, University of Bristol and Zeetta Networks collaborated to run the trial which began on 31st October 2018 by Prince’s Street Bridge, an area known for its high footfall and incidences of pedestrians falling into the harbour.

Thermal cameras were set up at specific ‘trigger’ entry points, which serve as barrier lines on the harbour wall, and connected to the Council’s main operations centre to alert the appropriate emergency services. The unique and effective simulation of 5G provided access to hard-to-reach places, such as the harbour wall, mobility and bandwidth slicing to guarantee performance with low latency (which allows processing of a high volume of data with minimal delay).

Within 36 hours of the trial starting, the system was triggered with a pedestrian falling into the harbour. This was picked up on the system, generated alerts and was recorded at the time.

As it happened during the day, members of the public were able to help the person out of the harbour, so no further action was needed. It is interesting to note that even during the day and with several people to assist recovering the person was a fairly intensive task.

Speaking about the trial, Peter Anderson, Bristol City Council’s Head of Service said: “Citizen and visitor safety is a priority for us. Water safety may not be uppermost in our minds as we work, visit and enjoy Bristol and yet we are surrounded by waterways as we walk through the city centre.

“The Harbourside in particular has a naturally high footfall of people using it day and night. This trial is the first real test we’ve been able to undertake to see how we can use digitisation to improve safety. Using the latest in telecommunications technology in our city infrastructure that is connected to our emergency services, we’ve been able to demonstrate how effective it can be and how future 5G can be simulated and applied to protecting our citizens. I’m delighted with the outcomes of the trial and how smart connectivity can make an immediate and positive impact on people’s lives.”

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