WISDM software, which is owned by Wireless Coverage – a partner of Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) -, has been integral for the project to identify suitable locations to demonstrate the value of using 5G technology in a rural setting.
MANY, which is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trials initiative and is exploring how enhanced connectivity can support the lives and livelihoods of rural communities, has used the software to model ideal locations for the placement of 5G-transmission equipment. This allows the project to find the right places to be able to prove the value of the latest technology for a broad range of potential users and applications.
‘WISDM software can use a process called reverse line of sight modelling, which involves making billions of line of sight tests and results in a best location heat map for each identified target area’ says David Burns, Managing Director of Wireless Coverage.
WISDM uses high-resolution ground and surface mapping data to calculate line of sight for wireless signals on a range of frequencies. It performs it at a rate of 1 billion per second meaning millions of locations can be considered in order to identify great optimal transmission points, and changes to a design can be included in real time.
MANY is using 5G technology for wide area services such as using IOT sensors for flood defence through to very high data performance applications such as AR and video applications for tourism. It is also, working within the North Yorkshire National Park, where the aesthetics of digital connectivity is a key concern.
WISDM has allowed the project team to develop a network design that meets the coverage objectives with the very minimum of new structures which in turn reduces the impact on the landscape – as well as reducing capital costs and improves the time to market. Moreover, it has also been able to include additional mapping layers covering tourist destinations, flood zones, existing mobile coverage and bridges that could be at risk, allowing the project to create a more informed picture. This means the MANY’s project team has been able to identify locations where it can bring most value whilst causing the least disturbance to the landscape.
‘Using the composite data, several key sites were identified’ says David ‘the software then built a coverage map highlighting the different areas that could be used for narrowband or wideband (low speed or high speed) 5G services’.
This allowed the project to work dynamically identifying new use cases and de-scoping areas where Covid restrictions have prevented work from progressing. The performance of WISDM has allowed changes to be reflected and reviewed in real time during project meetings, rather than having to wait for large-scale re-calculations to be performed. This has allowed the project to bring new ideas and opportunities ensuring the rural communities of North Yorkshire are at the heart of the project.
The software has also benefitted the project’s commitment to the community in which it works. ‘WISDM is address-aware, meaning that the coverage can be described in terms of the coverage area but moreover, the actual addresses of properties that can be covered for Fixed Wireless Access’ says David. For the project, this has meant the engagement team have been able to confidently confirm to individual householders and businesses whether their often remote properties will or will not be covered. This has allowed relevant communications to be developed and targeted at those in and outside the coverage areas.
Yet, the benefits have not just been for the project and the end users in North Yorkshire but for Wireless Coverage. This project has meant the Wireless team have been able to demonstrate that the technology can scale to full county size projects and beyond. It has been able to work with over 10,000Km of high-resolution terrain and surface data without any drop in performance. ‘We are now testing at country-scale and believe that the technology that we have developed for the MANY project will be useable in a range of 5G, WIFI, Smart City and Fixed Wireless projects across the UK and internationally’ says David.
Moreover being part of the MANY project has brought more benefits to Wireless Coverage.
‘We have now initiated an EPSRC-funded project in partnership with the University of York – another MANY consortium partner– to explore the use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to improve the accuracy of potential coverage, as well improvements in safer working at height for wireless engineers installing equipment on buildings’ says David.
Adding ‘we have also seen how valuable it can be to use high-resolution data such as LiDAR at very large scale and we intend to explore methods of creating and enhancing very large scale surface and terrain data using ML and AI, which we believe can be of tremendous value in the UK and internationally’.