Bristol Harbourside has started the successful first phase test of 5G simulation safety to assist visitors who fall into the water.

The 5G Smart Tourism project, led by WECA, has installed thermal cameras around the water at specific ‘trigger’ entry points which serve as barrier lines on the harbour wall.

These are connected to the council’s main operations centre to alert appropriate emergency services if someone were to fall in.

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.

Members of the public were able to help the person out of the harbour, so no further action was needed.

barrier trip

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.”

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 an area known for its high footfall and risk of pedestrians falling in.

Julie Snell, CEO of Bristol is Open, said: “This is a fantastic example of what a smart city can do. We’ve put Bristolians and those who visit our city at the core of what we do.

“We started with the problem, a real challenge that affects our people and from there we developed a relevant smart solution.

“In this case, it was with clever use of simulated 5G, Bristol’s private, city-owned fibre and wireless network and dedicated bandwidth, to show real smart city innovation that can be used across the globe and ultimately prevent lives from being lost.”

The use of the cameras provided accurate location and detection data for the emergency services to use, whilst protecting the privacy of the individuals as they do not deliver face recognition technology.

The project is working to show how 5G can go beyond mobile phone bandwidth and be used in methods of safety.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “I am proud our region is playing such a pivotal role in both the development of 5G technology and the innovative first trials of these pioneering new wireless services which can offer real safety benefits for our communities.

“We are ambitious to help support a commercial roll out of 5G infrastructure across our region and we see 5G as having a role in helping us address mobility across the region and in helping with digital inclusion.

“We are leading the way in technology and our businesses and universities are at the forefront of innovation in next-generation networks, including 5G, such as the University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab where our 5G testbed is hosted.”