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Networks at sea: how 5G is transforming our waterways

29 Jan 2021
Daniel Jiménez Muñozand

Daniel Jiménez Muñoz

Managing Director, Vodafone Business Spain
Anne Sheehan

Anne Sheehan

Director, Vodafone Business UK

Around 9,000 ships of all kinds and sizes dock in the Port of Barcelona every year, and some can be up to 400 metres long – nearly twice the length of a football pitch.

Having accurate, instant information on their exact whereabouts is essential, not only for efficiency in the port but for the safety reasons too.

From varying weather conditions and tidal changes to constantly moving heavy machinery, there are many challenges facing ports but technologies like 5G and IoT, can help give more visibility in this vast environment.

Managing maritime traffic

In Spain, we’ve teamed up with other leaders such as IBM and Mobile World Capital Barcelona on a Catalonian government backed project called 5G Maritime.

The pilot scheme will help the Port of Barcelona manage its flow of boats and ships better by accurately locating each vessel in real time, through a mix of image data and motion sensors.

Using 5G paired with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), operators can analyse live footage from cameras dotted around the port, having access to instant information about each ship’s bow, stern and motion.

This facilitates remote navigation assistance and gives the port pilot the information needed to manage ship entry and dock operations, making everything safer and more sustainable.

Watch this video to find out more:

5G at the Port of Barcelona

This project provides further insights into the possible use cases of 5G, particularly within the logistics industry; but 5G can transform our waterways beyond business baselines too.

Monitoring the environment

In the UK, we’re installing a 5G mobile private network (MPN) in Plymouth Sound, a bustling bay forming part of the UK’s historic south-western seaboard.

It will be the world’s first 5G ocean-based marine testbed and will support the development of new marine technology.

Offering ultra-fast download speeds and response times, business and academics will be able to use this network, to test, research and innovate new possibilities such as driverless boats, smart shipping connected buoys as well as further environmental monitoring too.

For example, connected buoys can already measure, observe and record a wide range of chemical and physical parameters but 5G will greatly increase the data that can be collected and understanding of our coastal seas and how they may be changing.

A lot of these solutions are only just scratching the surface of what these kind of technologies are capable of, especially when combined.

As they continue to develop, so too will their abilities, doing things we haven’t even imagined yet.

Ready to know more about what 5G can do for your business? Visit our website and get inspired.

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