There is a lot of interest in 5G North of the border, and a tremendous amount of curiosity about precisely when and how 5G will roll out, and what it might do to energise and empower the heritage sector to take its offer global, and into new areas such as Augmented Reality.
Those are two of the things I found out on 25 June, when I had a chance to give a talk to Xpo North about the considerable opportunities for Museums, Galleries and Heritage sites as 5G is rolled out.
Xpo North is Scotland’s major cultural event which usually takes place in Inverness but this year took place on Zoom. Around 1000 people attended, and events ranged from writing to to digital marketing, via many other sectors in between.
My talk focussed on the opportunities with 5G, really picking up on what had emerged from the very successful and well-attended National Gallery event we had run earlier in the year, just prior to the lockdown, and some of the learnings and use cases from that.
Pic: Ed Sheeran music event in Scotland
The session kicked off with a quick guide to what 5G is, including some examples of 5G in action from South Korean museums, and of course one of our own best use-cases, the Bath demonstration project by the BBC and universities.
We then looked specifically at 5G in Scotland, especially the Orkneys projects which revolve around both rural connectivity and culture, and gave a good introduction to the work of the Scotland 5G Centre, which is of course leading the project in Scotland, and working closely with both the DCMS and Scottish Government. They have a tremendous film which is a useful summary of their ambition for 5G in Scotland, which can be accessed on their website and is a useful tool. Finally we also mentioned an upcoming event they had, specifically on any health questions around 5G.
Next we moved on to the technical attributes of 5G, in particularly both the download/upload speeds and the low latency, and the kinds of capabilities that those offer in all sectors, showing examples from the US entertainment industry. And there was a bit of an abbreviated introduction to the organisation of 5G test projects in the UK, what UK5G is and does, and more in that regard, including 5GTT use case trials, such as 5GRIT, Liverpool 5G, 5G Smart Tourism (which includes Bath of course) and AutoAir.
We looked specifically at Scotland, the bandwidth constraints that already exist in rural areas, and to what extent 5G might offer solutions to that, as well as demonstrating via press and video clips how invested the Scottish government, and Nicola Sturgeon specifically, is in the project. There is a useful Deloitte report on the sector which is available online, which shows a best case of up to 160,000 new jobs in Scotland by the 2030s if 5G is rolled out successfully.
Pic: Shot of a Scotand heritage site, taken by Alex Connock
Finally we looked at opportunities specifically in the museums and galleries space, how augmented reality can be integrated with 5G, and what some of the AR and VR demonstrations in sport might show as a way forward for the heritage sector.
Throughout the event, Geoffrey Goodwin from Verizon Studios, also on the UK5G Creative Industries Working Group, made a superb, upbeat and detailed contribution to what the potential for the technology is.
Alex Connock is on the board of UK5G, and a Fellow at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. He has just written a book which reached no. 1 on the Amazon bestseller list in Telecommunications in the UK, titled You’re On Mute: Optimal Online Video Conferencing in Business, Education and Media.