On 26th July we celebrated the conclusion of the Smart Junctions 5G project with an End of Project Showcase in Manchester. The Smart Junctions 5G project began in September 2020 and is a collaboration between VivaCity and Web3 startup Weaver Labs, in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Smart Junctions 5G uses a private 5G network to enhance VivaCity’s Smart Junctions Project – an AI-based traffic signal optimisation system. Currently deployed in Manchester, Smart Junctions 5G has already shown to cut waiting times at traffic signals significantly. The End of Project Showcase celebrated the Smart Junctions 5G project’s performance, reflected on the challenges and lessons learned, and was an opportunity to exchange ideas on what the future holds for Smart Junctions 5G.
Exploring the junction sites
The day kicked-off with a walking tour of the junction sites to show the project’s approach to integrating an OpenRAN 5G system and 5G-connected VivaCity sensors into existing local authority owned assets. The set-up included an edge-cloud network running inside of a roadside cabinet alongside VivaCity control hardware that integrates with the existing traffic controller directly.
Small cell radios and 5G enabled VivaCity sensors utilised existing traffic signal pole infrastructure to largely reduce upfront costs and accelerate delivery time of the network, whilst enabling TfGM to effectively manage maintenance of their assets.
Insightful discussions and sharing ideas
After exploring the junction sites we headed to Circle Square, a venue at the heart of Manchester’s innovation centre, for the panel sessions.
First up was the Lessons Learned panel, moderated by Alex Cleaves, Portfolio Manager at DCMS. A key takeaway from the session was the necessity for better asset management and digital twins in order to map street assets and log information about their state. This will make it possible to accelerate and smooth deployments for Smart City applications. Another important point raised was that a strong systems integrator is paramount to successfully deliver a multi-vendor approach, with lots of open communication between vendors, particularly at the current technical development stage.
We then broke for lunch, giving delegates the opportunity to explore the exhibition area and network, before reconvening for session number two to discuss the opportunities that 5G offers the Transport sector, moderated by Sam Li, Senior Innovation Officer at TfGM. The panel discussed how SJ5G builds on VivaCity’s existing Smart Junctions project. By using a 5G small-cell network, SJ5G requires fewer fibre-optic connections to operate the system. This reduces the cost of deploying the technology and supports decarbonisation and green objectives.
Our final panel session looked at what the future holds for 5G networks and was moderated by Maria Lema, co-founder of Weaver Labs. We then welcomed Matt Warman MP, Minister of State for DCMS to the stage to give the day’s closing remarks.
Key takeaways from the Smart Junctions 5G project
As part of 4G vs 5G testing, we saw a 5% improvement in proportion of acceptable latency (set at 400ms) during peak time period of control. This can translate to a 1% improvement in journey time over an average day and with further OpenRan developments to increase the network’s stability this figure will improve. If we look at the number of journeys made through this single junction across a year counted as 16 million, and the average journey time through the junction using some upstream sensors being 100 seconds, then this 1% improvement translates to 185 days saved time across all of the vehicles passing through. Using WebTag for Journey times, this adds up to a £45k yearly total road user cost saving at just a single junction.
What Smart Junctions 5G and the future of transport
This project has gone a long way in shaping the future of transport networks. We’re pleased to see that the Salford trial has already resulted in reduced wait times. The knock-on impact not only improves the everyday lives of residents and visitors, but it will reduce congestion and emissions in the local area too. The anonymous data insights that we’ve gathered throughout the duration of the Smart Junctions 5G project will also help local authorities to improve their awareness of how the scheme has worked, empowering them to make decisions on future schemes in the surrounding area.
Download our Award-Winning Smart Junctions Paper
Learn more about our journey into developing our Smart Junctions solution, and our partnership with Manchester and Cambridge through the trial and results achieved.
Discover the future of traffic signal control and learn more about how our Smart Junctions solution can reduce journey time. Or visit our traffic monitoring solution page and learn more about what makes our AI-powered computer vision technology unique. If you have any questions or would like to organise a free demo, get in touch with our team now.
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