West Midlands 5G

West Midlands 5G

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) is a multi-million-pound programme from the West Midlands Combined Authority and the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of 5G technology in its local communities of Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall.
WM5G works in partnership with public and private sector organisations to deliver projects in the areas of health and social care, transport and manufacturing, to speed up the launch of 5G networks, and to test, prove and scale up new 5G products and services – for local people, businesses and the public sector.
hand holding iPhoneX displaying Navilens Accessibility app with 5G

Making Public Transport More Attractive

Transport is at the heart of the West Midlands which is why WM5G has put transport connectivity at the heart of its delivery strategy for 5G. 
Working with Digital Partners including Icomera and its subsidiary, GoMedia, alongside Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) Vodafone and West Midlands Metro (WMM), WM5G looked for ways to implement 5G with the aim of:

• Making transport more efficient and reliable
• Improving access to work, study, and leisure
• Enhancing the experience of travellers by improving services and products across the transport system

The UK’s First 5G-Enabled Tram

Central to the project was the commissioning of a 5G-enabled West Midlands Metro tram – the first of its kind in the UK. Mobile Internet connectivity is delivered to the vehicle through Icomera’s X5 Advanced Gateway and shared with passengers and onboard systems connected to the centralised onboard connectivity network. The solution makes use of Icomera’s aggregation technology, it is backwards-compatible, meaning that in addition to 5G cellular networks, the WMM tram is also able to take advantage of the coverage and capacity of 4G networks and other wireless communication networks where available. With fast and reliable mobile Internet connectivity assured, WM5G and its partners were able to turn attention to a range of 5G connected applications intended to make public transport a safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable experience for the passenger, while also being cost-effective for the operator.

Transport Accessibility

2 million people living with visual impairments in the UK are unable to complete at least part of their journeys on public transport independently. This creates a significant economic cost (an estimated £28 billion per annum) which could be alleviated by getting the right information to visually impaired passengers at the right time.
Developed in collaboration with the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), Navilens & Icomera, GoMedia’s Transport Accessibility solution provides timely and accurate information to passengers who need additional assistance when travelling on the UK public transport network, either in the station or on the vehicle.
Passengers simply hold up their smartphone. The device automatically recognises any Navilens BIDI codes in view, connects to GoMedia’s live cloud-based passenger information system and delivers the desired information, including location, Realtime Metro information, Navigation options and instructions to board or alight a tram.

Roger Matthews, Managing Director of GoMedia: “When a passenger walks onto a platform we can tell them what platform they’re on, we can tell them what trams are going to be arriving to that platform, and when”.

Where previously the level of content rich, location-based information needed to create a solution was not possible due to a lack of the necessary technology and infrastructure, relevant information is now being transmitted to passengers’ devices, in the format that they can consume, all over the 5G cellular networks.
The reduced latency of the 5G network increases the speed of delivery of data to personal devices, improving current location tools. The increased capacity of 5G supports more data rich experiences, enabling passengers to stream augmented reality (AR) location-based video content on a moving vehicle.

John Worsfold, Innovation and Technology Implementation Manager at RNIB: “Technology has and continues to open up the world for people with sight loss, and this opportunity has the potential to increase access to relevant information whilst travelling for blind and partially sighted people”.

About NaviLens

NaviLens helps make cities smarter and more inclusive. The capabilities of this code allow users to access and interact with their environment more easily in places such as subway stations, bus stops and museums or public buildings. www.navilens.com

Real Time Passenger Sentiment Analysis

Understanding the evolving landscape of passenger routines, sentiment and mindset will be essential to the public transport industry’s post-COVID recovery plan. Once a passenger is on board, it is important to offer them a channel for a two-way conversation with the operator while the journey is in progress.
By combining GoMedia’s contextual passenger feedback technology with Wordnerds’ AI-led sentiment analysis tools, a new onboard and cloud-based solution aims to give West Midlands Metro unprecedented access to measurable and actionable passenger feedback. West Midlands Metro will have access to dashboards and trends of passenger feedback on different levels, for example by vehicle type, route, or time of day. There is also an alert tool that automatically notifies the operator of priority issues
Sophie Allison, Head of Business Transformation at West Midlands Metro: “We’re understanding what our passengers are talking about in near real time, so, for example, if a passenger said ‘it’s a bit cold on this tram’, we’ll know exactly which tram they’re talking about, through the 5G, and we can turn on the heating”.

The speed at which the data is processed is dramatically increased when using the 5G network. It also allows for the use of different types of passenger-generated data. For example, passengers connected to Icomera’s centralised onboard connectivity network can send videos and images of any issues to the operator using the onboard Wi-Fi, without incurring any data costs themselves.

Pete Daykin – CEO of Wordnerds: ‘’Immediate problems can be resolved, and a database of categorised issues will provide insights for the operator to improve services. This will enhance the traveller experience by improving the products and services available to passengers across the transport system”.

About Wordnerds

Founded by linguists, Wordnerd’s SaaS platform builds on the very latest AI/NLP techniques, but does so through the lens of advanced corpus linguistics. The result is a user-trainable model that genuinely understands language. Wordnerds group ideas by meaning—not vocabulary—and link sentiment to topics. It uncovers the true voice of the customer, helping brands to listen, understand and act. www.wordnerds.ai
GoMedia is a subsidiary of Icomera.
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