A PROJECT aimed at exploring how next generation connectivity can benefit the people that live and work in rural areas picked up three awards at the Connected Britain conference.

The yearly conference brings together leaders in digital transformation, technology and regulation for the rollout of next generation broadband. This year the event explored the positive impact 5G has had on the economy in the UK.

5G RuralDorset, backed by Dorset Council, is a project aimed at understanding how next generation connectivity can help people live better, safer and more prosperous lives in rural communities, even in environments as sensitive as the county's heritage coastline.

In awarding the 5G Initiative prize the judges made mention of the project's research into the future of food including the development of the world’s first 5G connected agricultural robots. They were also impressed with the innovative approaches being explored in deploying infrastructure in sensitive areas which includes the world’s first 700 MHz standalone 5G network. The work brings connectivity to emergency services along Dorset’s beautiful but often dangerous coastline and also provides digital signage that informs the public of sea conditions and safety information.

The impact the research might have had on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been carefully considered by the project which the judges recognised when giving it the Sustainability award. The council said the panel were impressed with the project's research into the reduction of harmful chemicals in farming through the use of non-chemical weeding using robotics at a per-plant level. The panle were also said to have recognised the use of low frequency networks and satellite backhaul which avoids the need to install infrastructure along the Jurassic Coast as well as the world’s first 5G connected sea state monitoring buoy made from flax fibres and avoids putting plastics into the sea.

The hat-trick was complete with the Barrier Removal award which highlights the project’s AssetHub work, mapping existing assets in the area and aims to make infrastructure rollout more efficient and cost effective.

Dorset Council Deputy Leader Peter Wharf said: “We are absolutely over the moon to have taken home three awards from Connected Britain this year. My thanks go to the whole team for their dedication and commitment and also to our partners without whom none of this important work would be possible. This recognition goes to show that Dorset Council is leading the way in next generation connectivity research."