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Cardiff experts join £3m West of England 5G project

16 February 2021

Port with graphics layed over

Cardiff University experts in logistics, operations management and transport will assess the business benefits and policy implications of 5G technology as part of a £3m UK Government-funded project with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

WECA’s 5G Logistics project programme will develop 5G products and services to support operations at Bristol Port and Gravity Smart Campus and demonstrate a smart and dynamic port environment.

The project will focus on security, traceability, and real-time tracking of goods within and across extendable virtual boundaries – and between public and private networks.

One of two academic partners in the consortium, Dr Yingli Wang and Professors Andrew Potter and Mohamed Naim all from Cardiff Business School will work together with academic colleagues from the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab.

“While our colleagues from Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering provide the technical expertise on 5G, our role is to explore the policy and business implications of this technology for logistics and especially the concept of a 5G-enabled ‘Free Port’.”

Dr Yingli Wang Reader in Logistics and Operations Management

“We’re delighted to be part of this project and look forward to working with WECA and its partners on benefits realisation, sustainability and dissemination over the next 18 months.”

The team will demonstrate how 5G private network capabilities can offer efficiency and productivity improvements to the logistics sector and more widely, allowing real-time location tracking of individual items, improvements to road traffic management and replacing low value, manually intensive processes with 5G enabled autonomous systems.

The project offers the potential for such advances in technology to be implemented industry-wide, including at other ports in the UK, Enterprise Zones or other business parks.

Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “5G has the potential to revolutionise whole industries and economies, creating exciting new jobs and opportunities. I want the West of England to be at the forefront of this revolution.

“We have already led one successful trial and I’m thrilled that our plan to demonstrate how a smart and secure port could operate using the Internet of Things has been approved for funding by the Government...”

“Backing innovation and the jobs of the future and bringing new investment to the region by securing a Freeport are key parts of our plan for economic recovery, so this is a big vote of confidence in the West of England.”

Tim Bowles West of England Mayor

The Government-backed £3m project is part of their 5G Create competition – which supports innovators exploring new uses for 5G to help improve people's lives and boost businesses.

Technology continues to play a central role in UK Government’s wider strategy for the border. It aims to establish resilient ‘ports of the future’ at border crossing points to make the experience smoother and more secure for travellers and traders, while better protecting the public and environment.

“This trailblazing project - funded through our £200 million 5G trials programme - will explore how revolutionary new 5G connectivity could make our ports more efficient and secure as we attract major investment from across the globe post-Brexit.”

Matt Warman Minister for Digital Infrastructure

“I look forward to seeing it in action.”

WECA is leading a consortium of partners on the £5.2m 5G Logistics project – one of nine projects to receive government funding – which includes companies ADVA Ltd, Airspan, AttoCore, Bristol Port, Cellnex UK, Gravity, Maritime, Unmanned Life, Bristol City Council, Bristol University and Cardiff University. 5G is the type of cutting-edge technical innovation that the West of England is looking to embrace with its forthcoming Freeport bid.

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