5G Connected Forest

Nottinghamshire’s 5G Connected Forest is exploring how 5G and technologies such as augmented reality, drones, robotics and the ‘internet of things’ might be used to protect and promote areas of natural and cultural heritage such as Sherwood Forest.

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Robin Hood in the AR headset.
Robin Hood in AR headset shooting arrows.
Robot dog.

Our story

by Nottinghamshire County Council

The 5G Connected Forest project is led by the Digital Connectivity team in Nottinghamshire County Councils’ Places directorate in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, Netmore UK, Gooii, Parkwood Leisure, Harworth Group, ISPB and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). It began in March 2020 and is currently due to complete its research activities in March 2022; with the lessons learned expected to be taken forward in future work.

Enabled by the high speed, high capacity connectivity provided by 5G; the project set out to trial the feasibility of 5G communications in a woodland and rural setting through the development of a range of augmented reality, robotics, drone, artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘internet of things’ based use cases.

Using drone and robotic based real-time data capture, the project is exploring how these technologies might be used to help monitor and manage the health of the woodland, from reviewing storm damage to tracking invasive species and reviewing the changing nature of the area.

The use cases also include ‘An Arrow Through Time’, possibly the world’s first interactive holographic movie, bringing the history and legend of Sherwood Forest to life for visitors as well as a ‘holographic ghost walk’ with characters from Rufford Abbey and the surrounding area.

It is hoped that not only will the project identify new ways to protect and promote areas of natural and cultural heritage but also showcase Nottinghamshire’s potential as a centre for new business and job opportunities using these new digital technologies.

A world first testing of 5G capability and connectivity in a forest setting. this project is the first research project to share lessons learned across the globe.

Our advice

At its heart 5G Connected Forest is a research project which set out to understand the 'art of the possible’. As such we knew that not everything we tried would work in the way we envisaged; this approach helped us to overcome the inertia that’s sometimes found with projects that ‘over-plan’ or where perfection becomes a barrier to progress. This became particularly relevant when COVID restrictions prevented all face to face meetings and site visit, and when global supply chain issues severely restricted the availability of 5G devices and equipment. These uncontrollable external issues could have led to the project stopping but actually resulted in a more flexible approach across the partners
Also we created a team bringing together academics from two different universities, local authority staff and a range of large and small businesses. In this way, we certainly benefited from the breadth of input and collaboration we were able to achieve between people who had never worked together before.

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