Pioneering work which aims to introduce cutting-edge digital technology to enhance the visitor experience in the heart of Nottinghamshire’s legendary Sherwood Forest is making ‘excellent progress’.
The research project to deliver 5G connectivity at the historic site was launched in February 2020 as part of a series of government-funded trials by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to maximise the potential of modern technology.
Nottinghamshire County Council, in partnership with academic researchers and local businesses, is leading the £10 million, 25-month test bed and trial programme to create the world’s first 5G Connected Forest at popular tourist attractions Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre and Rufford Country Park.
With funding of £5 million from the DCMS’s Rural Connected Communities programme, matched by the consortium partners, the project focuses on how 5G technology can support the tourism and environment protection sectors.
Project leaders say a selection of visitors to world-renowned tourist destination Sherwood Forest will be able to test and trial an augmented reality experience set in the woodland.
A meeting of the county council’s Economic Development and Asset Management Committee next week ( 7 September) will discuss how the ground-breaking project is making ‘excellent progress’ since it was launched.
Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of the county council’s Economic Development and Asset Management Committee, said: “5G Connected Forest really is an exciting project and I am proud that Nottinghamshire is leading the way in using the latest technology to deliver experiences which will inspire more visitors to come to the county, ultimately benefitting the local economy and businesses in the area.
“I firmly believe these fantastic visitor experiences highlight our ongoing commitment to make Nottinghamshire a go-to destination and ultimately boost our tourism offer.
“5G Connected Forest will also bring our historic and ancient woodland to life in a new and unique way, while also helping to protect it so it can be enjoyed by families and visitors for many years and decades to come.
“I would like to thank our partners for the excellent progress they have made as we work towards delivering an innovative project which will put Nottinghamshire at the forefront of the digital world.”
A new standalone website detailing the project’s vision and innovative work went live on Nottinghamshire Day (25 August), while the county’s most famous outlaw Robin Hood and his sweetheart Maid Marian have been busy filming as part of plans to bring a new augmented reality experience to Sherwood Forest and return the legend to life.
It is planned that visitors will be able to watch An Arrow Through Time via mixed reality headsets in what has been described as the ‘world’s first ever interactive holographic movie’.
The production has been put together by project partner Gooii Ltd and features an exciting cast of actors, including Black Mirror’s Dominic Le Moignan, using a script co-written by Bafta award-winning CBBC writer and producer Nick Hutchings.
Phil Hasted, of Nottingham-based Gooii Ltd, said: “We’re excited to produce one of, if not the world’s first ever interactive holographic movie. We have an amazing cast, combined with a thrilling story and we can’t wait for you to be part of the adventure.”
An Arrow Through Time is one of many ways 5G Connected Forest is researching and developing innovative methods in which the technology can benefit tourism, the environment, and businesses.
Other pioneering initiatives which have taken place since the project was launched includes robot and drone technology. This technology is trialling how data can be gathered to monitor and assess the health and condition within a forest environment.
5G Connected Forest will also enable visitors to experience an augmented reality ‘ghost walk’ at nearby Rufford Mill, while an innovative app-based experience called Tag-in-the-Park will be introduced to help bring visits to the park to life.
The county council is leading the project in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, Netmore IOT Solutions, Gooii, ISPB, Harworth Group, and Parkwood Leisure.
The project is also in collaboration with RSPB as Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve is managed by an RSPB-led consortium in partnership with the county council.