VivaCity, the transport technology scaleup, and Weaver Labs, the Web3 startup democratising access to telecoms, today announced the result of their smart junctions 5G project, in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The project, which ran from September 2020 to July 2022 in Salford, Greater Manchester, used innovative Open RAN 5G technology and was funded by the DCMS 5G Testbed and Trials Programme. DCMS is today also announcing more than £35 million in R&D funding and innovation projects to accelerate development of Open RAN, with Minister Matt Warman in Salford to see first hand the use of the innovative technology in the smart junctions project. Equally, SJ5G highlighted the importance of a low latency, reliable and scalable network to operate real time traffic control, improving congestion and air quality, and reducing journey times. This was showcased by at least a 5% lost time improvement over a congested 4G network.
VivaCity, which makes cities smarter, safer and more sustainable by supporting and empowering authorities with the right transport data at the right time, uses AI sensors and smart junctions to gather detailed insights on transport modes, traffic flow and travel patterns. Through this, VivaCity is decreasing infrastructure cost for the connection of the sensors at every junction. Critically, the system requires low-latency communications to achieve its goal – making Weaver Labs’ Cell-Stack solution the perfect technology to deliver this saving.
With the goal of creating a public sector owned 5G private network, Weaver Labs is working with TfGM and VivaCity to address the core technical and commercial aspects of 5G, including openness and diversity in the telecoms supply chain. As part of this project Weaver Labs also developed a new cybersecurity framework tool, called Record which was presented during the showcase event.
Smart Junctions 5G Showcase Event
The showcase event also saw a range of high profile speakers discuss the impact and outcomes of the smart junctions 5G project, including Peter Boulton, Head of Highways at TfGM, who addressed the importance of 5G networks for transport. Alex Cleaves, Portfolio Manager at DCMS, and Ed King, 5G Create Technical Lead at DCMS also discussed the main lessons learned from the program.
Equally, Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect at BT, Michael Goulding, Head of Commercial of Cellnex and David Pedley, 5G TT Security Lead at DCMS joined a panel session on the future of networks.
Maria Lema, Co-Founder at Weaver Labs, commented: “The deployment of our 5G smart junctions project is going a long way in supporting the development of smart city applications within the Greater Manchester area. We are proud to be presenting our technology in partnership with VivaCity, TfGM and DCMS and promote diversity and openness in the telecoms supply chain with our edge based 5G small cell network.”
Mark Nicholson, CEO and Co-Founder at VivaCity added: “We’re on a mission to make cities smarter, safer and more sustainable for all, and our smart junctions 5G project is going a long way in shaping the future of transport networks. We’re pleased to see that the Salford trial has already resulted in reduced wait times. The knock-on impact not only improves the everyday lives of residents and visitors, but it will reduce congestion and emissions in the local area too. The anonymous data insights that we’ve gathered throughout the duration of the project will also help local authorities to improve their awareness of how the scheme has worked, empowering them to make decisions on future schemes in the surrounding area.”
Moving forward, the project partners aim to continue working together to improve the stability of the OpenRAN network, increase the number of use cases using the network and prove the economic benefits of the investment into 5G infrastructure.
Weaver Labs will also continue to develop and test Cell-Stack as an open decentralised marketplace of connectivity assets, bringing more stakeholders into the testbed, such as Mobile Network Operators.