The Sheriff of Nottingham's livestreaming is about to get considerably faster, because Sherwood Forest is getting 5G.
The government has allocated £5m of funding, matched by another £5m from Nottinghamshire City Council, to get a 5G network up and running amongst the trees. The project – which is sadly not called 5Tree or even TreeG – will apparently enable visitors "to get a 3D experience of the forest like never before" with new virtual and augmented reality content:
The project will connect up not only the forest and its visitor centre, but the surrounding area including Rufford Abbey Country Park. The network itself will be built by Netmore Group UK, which has experience of similar projects in Scandinavia.
Nottinghamshire County Council leader, Councillor Kay Cutts MBE comments:
"Nottinghamshire is once again at the forefront of latest technology, bringing together some of the best academic minds, 3D creators and experts in 5G. This will be the world’s first testing of 5G in a forest. It will bring the stories associated with Robin Hood and our ancient woodland to life in a new way. Together with our partners, we will create a virtual reality experience for visitors to Sherwood Forest to attract even more families and visitors to Nottinghamshire from across the UK and overseas, bringing benefits to local businesses and our economy."
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport adds:
"Connecting the ancient Sherwood Forest with next-generation 5G technology will help bring its story and legendary characters to life through virtual reality, with huge knock-on benefits for Nottinghamshire’s visit economy. With £5 million of government funding matched by industry, I’m very excited to see what lessons can be learned about the innovative ways 5G can boost Britain’s brilliant tourism experiences."
The pilot programme will start next month, and will eventually include:
- Really good coverage in the forest
- "An incredible 3D/4D virtual reality experience" involving Robin Hood at the visitor centre
- Energy-efficient visitor accommodation using smart devices to both reduce the environmental impact of tourism and to encourage people to stay longer
- Semi-autonomous vehicles to move people -- including people with mobility issues -- around the site, potentially with onboard narration
- A new 5G innovation hub to host research and give local businesses a way to try out new tech and ideas
- Tech features to help kids learn about the forest and its creatures.
The virtual reality aspect of the project is anticipated to launch around March next year. Hopefully it won't involve stealing bandwidth from anyone to give it to Robin Hood.