As part of the DCMS’s £5m 5G Smart Tourism project, Zeetta Networks will deliver their network control and management technology onto the Bristol and Bath 5G Testbed infrastructure later this month. This will be a key technical milestone within the project.
WHAT IS ‘SMART TOURISM’?
Led by the West of England Combined Authority, the 5G Smart Tourism project involves over 20 partners across the fields of network technology, content production, tourism and visitor safety. Funded by the UK Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the project exploits the latest network and communications technologies – coupled with emerging 5G concepts – to deliver next-generation visual and interactive experiences for tourists in Bath and Bristol, using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and new capabilities in crowd management and visitor safety.
There are many ideas over what might constitute the interactive and immersive tourism services of the future, but behind them all is the recognition that they will require extremely high bandwidth and low latency mobile communications – key features of 5G technology and currently beyond the capabilities of 4G.
In addition, flexibility and agility on the part of the underlying network will be required. Visitor experiences will require that the levels of service offered to different groups of users at an attraction can be varied in real time – depending on the users’ specific requirements and the applications they are using. The network slicing functionality of Zeetta Networks’ NetOS® software is key to this capability.
With different slices of the network, or ‘sub-networks’, being created for each supported service, different content providers, including the BBC and Mativision, will be able to control and manage their allocated network slices in order to benefit from different bandwidths and resources that meet their needs.
Zeetta has a long-standing relationship with the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab, and our NetOS® software is the enabling technology behind Bristol’s 5G Smart Tourism Testbed – a multi-technology (heterogenous) network and one of the principal 5G Testbeds in the UK. Zeetta’s patented programmable network infrastructure software, NetOS®, allows fully customised connectivity, thanks to its ability to create individual virtual networks or ‘slices’ on an end-to-end basis, allowing ring-fenced portions of a multi-technology network infrastructure to be provided to discreet network users or tenants, each able to control and manage their own slice – as if they had their own dedicated network.
CAPABILITIES TO BE DEMONSTRATED
The delivery later this month will showcase Zeetta’s capabilities and those of our NetOS® platform. First and foremost, the 5G Testbed will be virtualised and sliced into sub-networks by NetOS®. This will include the dynamic reallocation of resources in response to the extension of the network via our mobile ‘pop-up network’. We will also be demonstrating NetOS®’s ability to manage microwave backhaul communications – yet another technology Zeetta’s pioneering technology is capable of controlling, and which further highlights the versatility of NetOS®.
Tourist attractions that will benefit from this innovation in technology include Bath’s Roman Baths and Bristol’s MShed. Among the proposed ideas for immersive visitor experiences is the BBC’s planned AR application for the provision of virtual reality Roman Centurions to give guided tours to visitors at the Roman Baths, with interactive content providing an engaging and memorable encounter.
With each proposed application, high capacity and low latency network communications are critical to their success, in order to provide a seamless visitor experience. This is where Zeetta Network’s technology will excel, ensuring guaranteed bandwidth and speed within each slice of the network.
Visitor safety and incident area networks
Crowded spaces where tourists might congregate bring with them the inherent possibility of accidental injury or death, and this poses problems for emergency services and event organisers in areas where mobile coverage and bandwidth might be congested. Zeetta has developed a ‘pop-up network’ capability which can be quickly deployed anywhere to enhance and extend coverage to support management of temporary events or unforeseen incidents. This provides event managers and those responsible for public safety with enhancements to their situational awareness and high quality, more resilient communications.
The 5G Smart Tourism project represents a significant step towards a 5G future, and further establishes Bristol and the surrounding area as the 5G world leader.