Netmore enables Sherwood Forest to be the world´s first 5G connected forest
Nottinghamshire County Council leads a major consortium which includes testing a new virtual reality experience at the home of Robin Hood all enabled by Netmore.
Visitors to the UK’s Sherwood Forest Country Park will be able to get a 3D experience of the forest like never before following the go-ahead for a £10m project to test the latest 5G technology at the world-renowned tourist destination. Netmore brings Scandinavian experience of forest coverage, its UK operations (in alliance with Connect Fibre) to act as operator partner supporting this exciting tourist-driven innovation.
Government funding worth £5 million, which will be matched by a consortium led by Nottinghamshire County Council, has been announced as part of a series of government-funded trials to seize the potential of modern technology by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today (Thursday 20 February)
Netmore Group UK operation will build and operate the local 5G network and is a member of the consortium.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “Connecting the ancient Sherwood Forest with next-generation 5G technology will help bring its story and legendary characters to life through virtual reality, with huge knock-on benefits for Nottinghamshire’s visit economy. With £5 million of government funding matched by industry, I’m very excited to see what lessons can be learned about the innovative ways 5G can boost Britain’s brilliant tourism experiences.”
Stefan Stanislawski, Head of Netmore Group UK said: “Netmore joined the consortium after being impressed by the vision of Nottinghamshire County Council using 5G to improve the experience of tourists. Tourism is a significant economic sector in rural areas and we think this project could have a far-reaching impact. Netmore is a Scandinavian mobile operator specialising in private mobile networks and we are very pleased to have been awarded this project to build our first 5G network in the UK”.
Nottinghamshire County Council leader, Councillor Kay Cutts MBE said:
“Nottinghamshire is once again at the forefront of latest technology, bringing together some of the best academic minds, 3D creators and experts in 5G. This will be the world’s first testing, of 5G, in a forest. It will bring the stories associated with Robin Hood and our ancient woodland to life in a new way. Together with our partners, we will create a virtual reality experience for visitors to Sherwood Forest to attract even more families and visitors to Nottinghamshire from across the UK and overseas, bringing benefits to local businesses and our economy.”
The £10m funding will launch the 25-month test bed and trial programme to create the world’s first 5G Connected Forest at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre and surrounding area, including Rufford Abbey Country Park, which are managed by the RSPB and Parkwood Outdoors on behalf of the County Council.
5G is the next generation of connective technology that can power machines, objects, and devices including driving vehicles remotely and creating faultless mobile phone connections in places where this was previously not possible. Focusing on how 5G technology can benefit tourism and environment sectors, the pilot, which starts next month, will test new approaches to using virtual and augmented reality experiences for visitors as well as at ways to improve visitor accommodation and transport.
Highlights of the 5G Connected Forest project will include:
- Use of Ofcom’s newly liberalised spectrum, distributed small sites and some innovative passive antenna technology to provide coverage in what is difficult terrain for 5G radio coverage.
- Bringing the Robin Hood legend to life at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre via an incredible 3D/4D virtual reality experience.
- Trialling more energy-efficient visitor accommodation using smart devices to reduce the environmental impact of a visitor’s stay as well as other improvements to encourage longer stays in the county.
- Testing of semi-autonomous vehicles to transport visitors, particularly those with mobility issues, with plans for on-board narration.
- Technology to teach children about the natural habitat of the forest to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
- UK specialist Connect Fibre to provide backhaul open access fibre to enable spin-off projects to share relevant assets.
- A 5G Innovation Hub to host new research and to provide businesses with access to facilities to trial new ideas and innovations.
The consortium is led by Nottinghamshire County Council and includes Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, Netmore Group UK, Gooii, ISPB, Harworth Group, Centre Parcs UK, Stagecoach East Midlands and Parkwood Outdoors.
Connected Forest is one of eight national 5G programmes announced today and is the only project to be led by a local authority.
Watch Council Leader, Cllr Kay Cutts, Phil Hasted of Gooii Ltd and Robin Hood describe how this investment will bring the Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest story to life https://youtu.be/opJKr_BlBik
Photo caption: Robin Hood with Council Leader, Cllr Kay Cutts with young visitors from Derbyshire, George, 11 (left) and Huey, 7 trying out a trial version of the VR headsets.
It is hoped that VR experience at Sherwood will be available from next March 2021.
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