Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman tours ground-breaking 5G research project.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman MP today visited the 5G RuralDorset project and took a tour of the locations and use cases that make up the DCMS backed research project.

The day began at Dorset Innovation Park where he was given a demo of a fully connected emergency response vehicle, which included drone footage transmitted over the 5G network from Lulworth.

He then toured the Ministry of Defence’s new Battle Lab workshop. This new facility houses a private 5G network and will allow the MOD and small, agile technology companies to collaborate and develop new 5G products and services.

This was followed by a visit to the secure outdoor 5G test environment which can be used to evaluate 5G applications and products ‘in the wild’, including autonomous vehicles.

The Minister was taken to Durdle Door next where he was shown the new 5G connected digital signage which informs the public of sea conditions and tide times via data collected using a sea condition monitoring system (SCMS) located offshore. This includes what is believed to be the only self-powered floating 5G buoy on the globe. Charged by the sun, it shows how innovation has a huge part to play in meeting net zero carbon objectives.

The buoy connects to the world’s first in-field 700 MHz standalone private 5G network and feeds digital signs with information about whether it’s safe to enter the water.

The four digital signs installed by the project at popular tourist hotspots also include footfall counting technology to help landowners and the local authorities manage potential overcrowding along the Jurassic Coast.

There was also the chance to meet the Lulworth First Responders who have recently had their emergency response vehicle brought into the 21st century with the latest communications kit and 5G connectivity.

Finally the Minister was then taken by boat to view the SCMS buoy up close and to look at the coastline where the project is examining how 5G can be used to help monitor land slippage and cliff stability.

Dorset Council Deputy Leader Peter Wharf remarked: “This visit marks an important milestone in the project as our research starts to become more visible and is being recognised at the highest levels of government. We hope what the Minister has seen here today will help inform decisions about 5G and rural connectivity, not just in Dorset but across the whole of the UK.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “5G is about much more than having a faster mobile phone and I’ve seen some incredible innovation happening across Dorset with the help of government funding. Whether it’s saving lives at sea, monitoring coastal erosion or helping our dedicated first responders, what we are learning in Dorset about this technology will help us improve lives and create new solutions to age-old problems.”

Our thanks go to all the partners and collaborators without whom today’s visit and the project wouldn’t be possible; Bournemouth University, British Geological Survey, Dorset Council, Excelerate Technology, Jet Engineering System Solutions, Kimcell, Neutral Networks, NGIS, Small Robot Company, Wessex Internet, Telint, University of Strathclyde, Vodafone, Satellite Applications Catapult, RNLI, Lulworth Estate, MOD, Qualcomm and University of Exeter.