5G-enabled road and rail transport trials for West Midlands

If successful the projects promise to transform travel around the region and potentially deliver new jobs in the future. They include a system that will provide live on-street parking information and help identify the location of potholes that plague the region's roads network. Another is an AI-led system that will interpret live customer feedback over 5G meaning immediate problems can be resolved and a database of categorised issues will provide insights for the operator to improve services.

West Midlands 5G is behind the investment. It is a multi-million-pound programme that both the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have set up to develop the UK's first region-wide 5G testbed. The funding competition's first phase will deliver innovation projects that - if successful - will either provide a use case to improve road and rail operational efficiency, provide better-connected transport, or improve passenger experiences.

The projects are scheduled to run until the end of 2021. Chris Holmes, programme director for transport at WM5G, said: "We have been delighted with the response to this first competition, which was heavily oversubscribed, and are really pleased to be awarding the funding to projects that we truly believe - when proven - will transform transport within the region. We look forward to seeing what our new partners deliver and will support them in the realisation of real and tangible benefits."

Chris Lane, head of transport innovation at Transport for West Midlands, added: "We have ambitious transport plans for the region and funding competition with West Midlands 5G forms a key part of that. The outcome of these trials will make a significant difference to transport across the region and have national relevance. This news further reinforces the West Midlands' reputation as one of the UK's number one locations for both 5G and transport innovation."


A second round of the funding competition for 5G-enabled road and rail trials closes on December 2. A share of up to an additional GBP2.5m is available to UK registered businesses. The winning projects from the first round also include one that will use 5G to stream CCTV footage from trams.

Images will be analysed real-time to detect people and objects.

This will help to increase passenger safety.

Another aims to help the visually impaired use public transport while a predictive parking system that uses 5G-enabled kerbside imaging to reduce the amount of time spent finding a parking space has also been funded.

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