With 2,000 acres of land and 1,000 acres of water and a diverse occupier base, Belfast Harbour Estate is a unique place to trial innovative new technology. Already home to some 760 businesses, Belfast Harbour houses a vibrant sectoral mix to include marine logistics and heavy engineering, commercial and residential real estate, retail, financial and IT services, tourism and leisure, media and creative industries.
In their strategic plan, A Vision to 2035: A Port for Everyone, Belfast Harbour set out its key ambition to become a ‘Smart Port’, one that is innovative and uses the latest available digital technology. They aim to become the most connected regional gateway for trade and economic growth and to create an iconic waterfront for the city where people want to live, work, visit and invest.
Belfast Harbour is engaged in collaborative partnerships with industry experts, including BT.
The delivery of a 5G Private Mobile Network by BT will be completed in early 2021, to allow Belfast Harbour and BT to explore the benefits that 5G’s low latency and high speeds can deliver in a complex operational environment. Use cases will include, mobile access, the “movement of things”, traffic management, IOT and environmental sensing to support port operations and maintenance activities.
Innovations that plan to be trialled as part of the 5G Private Network testbed include the ability to use Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Drones and Autonomous vehicles to fuel greater efficiency.
For example, within a large estate there’s huge benefit to be gained from mobile digital connectivity and this is being addressed through wearable tech which delivers an AR experience to enable technicians in the field to gain access to remote maintenance support.
Through such technology an engineer can remotely view what a technician is seeing and can annotate on the technician’s vision to provide clear advice. This is a real game-changer for Belfast Harbour, and they are working closely with BT to make it a reality.
Belfast Harbour is also working closely with leading smart ports to create a more connected port community system, using technology to make information more accessible to all port users and helping to increase efficiency and productivity.
Belfast Harbour has also outlined its ambition to become the world’s greenest multi-modal Port by deploying new technology to improve air quality, reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions. The port will digitise, decarbonise and decentralise its energy, working in partnership with the city and others to deliver solutions that can be used elsewhere, for the greater good.
The same ethos of innovation extends to Belfast Harbour’s plans to develop world class public spaces which incorporate new interactive experiences supported by highspeed personal and business connectivity through leading edge 5G and public Wi-Fi. This digital transformation is a key aspect of their vision to create an iconic waterfront that will be a great place in which to live, work, visit and invest.