The multi-award winning 5G RuralDorset project has gained greater national recognition for its groundbreaking work internationally.
Led by Dorset Council, the government-funded research program won more praise when it was highly praised by the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards in the Future Places category.
Since its launch in 2020, the 5G team and its partners have won seven national awards for innovating by showing how emerging technology can make a real difference in people’s lives.
From farming robots to the world’s first connected 5G coastal buoys, their work proves how next-generation connectivity can make rural areas like Dorset better places to work, live and visit.
Dorset Council portfolio holder for business development and transformation, Cllr Jill Haynes, said: “This is another well-deserved award for everyone behind the RuralDorset 5G project.
“Their innovative research demonstrated how next-generation connectivity can transform agriculture on land and sea.
“Most importantly, their work demonstrates how technology can improve the lives and safety of our residents and visitors.
The 5G RuralDorset project explores how technology can help overcome the many challenges facing rural areas – pressures on agriculture, coastal security, poor connectivity and an aging population.
In agriculture, the team used drone imagery and sensors to show that crop irrigation and weed control can be more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The team also used digital imaging and artificial intelligence to monitor the welfare and productivity of cattle herds.
And in aquaculture, underwater cameras have been used to help fishermen and farmers with crop and water quality, saving both time and money.
To improve coastal safety for residents and visitors, the team installed the world’s first standalone 5G network along the Lulworth coast.
This network can transmit live sea temperature and wave height data to information boards at tourist hotspots.
Digital signage also informs the town hall and emergency services of the number of people on the beaches and using the car parks, thus helping to reduce the risk of incidents.
An added benefit was the ability to equip Lulworth first responders with communications tools with 5G data coverage so they could make emergency calls.
To further improve coastal safety, 5G sensors have also been installed along the Jurassic Coast to monitor cliff movement and potential rockfall.
The 5G team also researched how technology can improve the wellbeing of elderly and vulnerable Dorset residents.
It has provided devices that can help inform caregivers of their loved one’s movements and fluid intake.
Connectivity in a very rural Dorset village, Worth Matravers, has also improved with new 5G connections, meaning villagers can call 999 from their mobile phones for the first time.
And the RuralDorset 5G team has also partnered with MOD at the new Defense Innovation Center and BattleLab at Dorset Innovation Park in Winfrith.
The center now has its own private 5G network, allowing tech companies to develop new apps and products alongside the MOD.
Dorset Council Chief Transformation, Innovation and Digital Officer, Deborah Smart, said: “It was an honor to attend the LGC Awards on behalf of the 5G RuralDorset team and partners.
“The amount of work they produced in two years, at the height of the Covid pandemic, is quite remarkable.
“Their groundbreaking work has shown the enormous benefits of digital innovation and the real difference it can make to the economy and people’s lives.”
RuralDorset 5G experts and other ambitious digital schemes will feature in this year’s Festival of the Future, which runs from October 10-14. Full details will be published soon on www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk