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Building a 5G economy

Former Staff
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O2’s Smart Cities report highlighted a number of compelling ways in which 5G can help the UK economy. This included how a 5G-enabled road management system, able to respond to traffic pressures at unprecedented speeds, will reduce the time motorists spend stuck in traffic by 10%, save the economy £880 million a year, and reduce CO2 emissions by 370,000 metric tonnes per year.


Back in 2019, we announced the role our 5G network was to play in powering connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), an industry which is projected to be worth £28 billion by 2035. As the low-latency and high capacity of 5G allows for vehicles to transmit large amounts of data to intelligent cloud-based transport systems, it was expected that this technology would improve road safety and help traffic authorities to monitor and manage traffic flow.

Since 2019, we’ve led and been involved in several trials to determine how 5G can help power the CAV industry. Here are some of them:


Smart Ambulances


In September last year, we announced that O2 would provide connectivity for a new “Smart Ambulance” at Millbrook Proving Ground, as part of a trial that has the potential to revolutionise patient diagnosis, transport and treatment.


The project will involve equipping a standard ambulance with state-of-the-art devices and connectivity to create a “Smart Ambulance” that will simulate 5G connectivity, transforming the vehicle into a unique remote consultation room.


O2 research found that 5G video conferencing alone will free-up 1.1 million hours per year for the NHS, as well as saving cities £463 million per year and decreasing overall bed occupancy rates by 6% through the adoption of wearing monitoring devices.


Project Darwin


In July, we announced the launch of a pilot trial of a fully connected COVID-19 testing clinic-on-wheels, supported by O2’s 5G mobile network, which is designed to provide remote testing and tracking of care home residents and workers in Glasgow, as well as the delivery of essential medical supplies.


The project was created in response to an open request for help from the Scottish Government in March to fight COVID-19. With healthcare professionals currently overstretched, the CMHC aims to provide an innovative solution that factors in the distinctiveness of care homes in managing this outbreak. It is part of Project Darwin, a four-year trial programme and partnership between O2 and the European Space Agency designed to develop and validate the next generation of connectivity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles.


Cyber security

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This year we also completed a project funded by Innovate UK, the UK Government-funded innovation agency, and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to support the development of cybersecurity testing capabilities.


O2’s cybersecurity experts were responsible for determining the types of cyberattack and attackers that pose a threat to CAV networks.  Their investigation focused on developing models that could be used to classify, manage, and mitigate cybersecurity risks for intelligent transport systems, which will be vital for ensuring the safety and security of road users in the future.


The security of the UK’s transport system has never been more important, and this will only increase with time as cyberattacks become more complex and sophisticated. One Cabinet Office report3 calculated that cybercrime costs the UK economy £27 billion annually, £21 billion of that to businesses, £3.1 billion to citizens, and £2.2 billion to the Government. Given the anticipated growth rates of the automotive cybersecurity market and the UK CAV market – estimated to be worth £28 billion in 20351 – project BeARCAT generated valuable insights into the risks and challenges of the deployment of connected and automated mobility in public areas.



What are your thoughts on autonomous vehicles? Could you see yourself using them in the future?


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Level 61: Brainiac
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I've seen the Will Smith version of I, Robot.

Nice idea, but fraught with difficulties. Let's say I am undecided on self-drive vehicles, nice and all as Tesla's gull-wing vehicles might be. 


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