Hello, my name is Phil Ealey and I lead Stadium MK’s Information Technology function. I am a part of the Milton Keynes 5G Create project, illustrating how major venues could use autonomous vehicles, robots and drones in the future.
We are a small team who usually work on-call: operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In my long software career, this is the best job I have ever had; I genuinely love it. The work is so interesting and incredibly satisfying. No day is ever the same.
There is a range of businesses that require our services, including the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Milton Keynes Dons Football Club, MKFM Community Radio Station, the Marshall Arena and the MK Dons Sport and Education Trust. My team deals with any common technical issues. I am in charge of managing my colleagues, making sure the equipment is working properly and cybersecurity is functioning sufficiently.
I get to practise different skills, which is great. I might spend the morning fixing one of our four big screens inside the stadium and then, the afternoon, organising financial budgets for next year. The following day, I could be replacing a printer or perhaps monitoring CCTV camera performance. Some days are straightforward and everything goes to plan but on others, I end up being rushed off my feet!
The most exciting aspect of my role, though, is working on the Milton Keynes 5G project.
5G is going to have an enormous impact on my work. Honestly, I cannot wait. It is wireless and has a ginormous data bandwidth, which enables us to stream data to devices without the need for hardware cables or additional infrastructure. This will give us a lot more flexibility. We’re looking to upgrade the sensors in our car park and that would usually mean installing new fibre lines, requiring us to dig a tunnel underneath the stadium (a big and expensive task) but thanks to 5G, we will be able to operate and data stream the new cameras remotely.
It also presents a range of futuristic, exciting opportunities. Hotel guests may soon be able to take advantage of autonomous vehicles to assist them and their luggage on their journey from the hotel reception to one of the 304 bedrooms situated within Stadium MK. Remote technology will then guide the car back to its starting position, ready to pick up the next guest. We’re also going to leverage robot delivery systems within the stadium.
In terms of large events—such as the Rugby World Cup which we hosted in 2015—the technology will make things much easier. 4G doesn’t have the capacity for 30,500 people to all use their phones at once but 5G does. The safety of our guests is also very important, and 5G will enable us to carry out a greater duty of care. Drones, which can provide a birds-eye-view shot of the stadium, something standard CCTV cameras are unable to do, will facilitate stronger security.
1. What do you enjoy most about working on your 5G project?
Definitely the cutting-edge technology. I feel really proud to say that Milton Keynes is working with 5G, something that will change the lives of everyone who lives here.
2. What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of 5G?
I stood on the roof of Stadium MK, 28 metres above pitch level, to decide where to place the 5G transmitters. That day we had strong winds and driving rain. And I’m scared of heights! I hasten to add that I did not go near the edge…
3. What excites you most about the project?
It will make new networked technology installations much easier and faster. Also, seeing the faces of our customers when they realise they no longer need to carry their luggage to their hotel room!
4. What would you like people to know about the project?
That 5G isn’t just a new technology for mobile phones. It is a game-changer for society, and both central and local governments are helping us to implement it here in MK, which is brilliant.
5. What’s the biggest benefit you think 5G will bring to the UK?
Mass innovation. I think a lot of technologies in the UK, that may have been dismissed in the past, will now be given a chance due to the data speed of 5G. Soon everyone will be able to appreciate the experience, even if they don’t understand the technology.