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UK project tests the 5G water with augmented reality maintenance and mapping

The trial has been hailed as the first of its kind for a water company.

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O2, Ericsson and Northumbrian Water are trialling 5G to help manage 1.1 billion litres of water and sewerage services across the UK’s North East region.


The pilot includes exploring how 5G-enabled augmented reality (AR) technology could allow experienced maintenance technicians to remotely guide on-the-ground teams through complex tasks by relaying real-time data and instructions.

 

The technology further allows multiple experts to join one call simultaneously, adding valuable second opinions.

 

O2 and Ericsson will also create a private network installation for Northumbrian Water at its Washington Water Treatment Plant in Tyne and Wear to guarantee uninterrupted network access and capacity for the business.

The first set of trials will also focus on three other key areas:

  • AR Mapping – using 5G-powered AR to provide a 3D representation of buried assets for technicians. If successful, the technology could be extended to cover the layout of over 47,210km of water mains, pipes and conduits and would help engineers manage risks and hazards in real-time.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Management – allowing field technicians and engineers to quickly access and upload crucial data from Northumbrian Water’s central GIS database, without requiring a Wi-Fi or cable connection
  • Home Water Maintenance App – an app for consumers to monitor their home’s water supply and flow, identifying any unusual patterns to flag potential issues ahead of time.


Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2, said: “When we launched our new network in October, we discussed rolling out 5G to a range of businesses that we are already helping to harness the power of connectivity.


"Northumbrian Water has been a fantastic advocate for the possibilities of 5G for UK business, and is a great example of how 5G can change the way we do things in the utilities sector and beyond. This is a significant milestone as we bring new capabilities to make real changes in people’s everyday lives."

 

"This is a significant milestone as we bring new capabilities to make real changes in people’s everyday lives."


“We firmly believe 5G will continue to bring major new technological capabilities that will support entirely new business models, sectors, and more efficient ways of working," he added.

 

A first for water

 

Martin Jackson, Head of Strategy & Enterprise Architecture at Northumbrian Water, commented: “5G is set to completely transform the way we live and work, creating exciting new possibilities and improvements for our business, our customers and the environment.


"This is the first time a trial like this has ever been done by a water company and we’re incredibly proud to be leading the way in the utilities sector.”

 

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