You’ll remember this announcement that appeared earlier this year:
“Surrey Heath Borough Council today (24 February 2020) announce plans to co-operate with key partners for The Square shopping centre in Camberley to become the first fully 5G-enabled shopping centre in the UK.
“Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) and key partners, including globally renowned experts of this ground-breaking technology, will work together to explore and research how new and innovative technology could transform the retail experience and form the blueprint for how the “clicks and mortar” retail sector could operate in the future.
“Powered by the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre, the world’s first dedicated 5G research and innovation centre and Huawei, the world’s leading 5G technologists, the network will create a distinctive ‘test-bed’ opportunity for the latest innovations in the retail sector. Find out more at www.camberleybeinspired.com“
Well, we don’t know the details, but Huawei seems to have fallen somewhat out of favour nationally. So it’s not been surprising that we’ve heard little more about the project since then.
However, a somewhat similar scheme with no mention of Huawei seems to be in the pipeline. This Expression of Interest has surfaced recently:
“Camberley shopping centre seeking interested businesses for first full private 5G infrastructure shopping centre in the UK
“The owners of The Square Shopping Centre in Camberley (Surrey) are seeking expressions of interest from businesses and retailers who want to experience and test the latest technology delivering the foundation for innovation in the UK’s first fully 5G enabled shopping centre.
“We are looking to hear from businesses of all sizes who want the opportunity to be a part of this incredible, ground-breaking, step change for the retail industry. We believe 5G is the future of retail so If you’re a business that’s interested in working with global leaders in 5G technology register your interest at https://www.thesqcamberley.co.uk/5g/
“We’re not talking mobile phones here, this is real 5G, the type of network that can power autonomous vehicles, remote surgeries and make virtual and augmented realities common place.
“Once live across our 480,000 sq ft retail centre, The Square, Camberley, will be the first of shopping centre of its kind in the UK and only the third in existence anywhere in the world. 5G retail technology is at the forefront of current research with some exciting new applications driving superior customer experience through data driven AI, ML and XR strategies.
“Some of the applications you will be able to deploy include: digital signage, computer vision, dynamic pricing, robotics, logistics, intelligent personalised advertising and immersive customer experiences for consumers.
“Not only will we be providing world class 5G infrastructure for you to leverage, your business will also have access to the world acclaimed Surrey University 5G labs and Verizon’s 5GLabs to assist with the 5G ecosystem, 5G technology and commercial business case for your business. There is vast potential as the benefits from Industry 4.0, more research and innovation takes place around the world.
“Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Leader, Councillor Alan McClafferty, said: “This is a really exciting area for businesses to trailblaze new technologies and ways of working in a supportive and encouraging environment. We believe by equipping our shopping centre with full 5G infrastructure we are blueprinting the future of retail. I’d encourage all businesses big and small to be a part of this national first.”
“Partnering the project is the University of Surrey at their 5G Innovation Centre at the Institute for Communication Systems. Who are researching the potential applications of 5G infrastructure in and their privately developed core. Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Founder of the 5G Innovation Centre, said: “Providing the cutting-edge technology for the UK’s first fully 5G-enabled shopping centre, gives Camberley’s retailers a head-start in the race to transform retail for the future.”
“Rhoda Joseph, The Square shopping centre manager, commented; “During this time of change on our High Streets and Shopping Centres the introduction of 5G in Camberley shows how forward thinking and ahead of the game the town is. I look forward to this great initiative and believe it will be of great benefit for businesses and those shoppers who will use it personally”.
“The initiative is also supported by StoryFutures, a Royal Holloway University organisation, which supports R&D projects in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality by working closely with growing SMEs.”
Why does the announcement refer to “The owners of The Square Shopping Centre” rather than the borough council? A political smokescreen, perhaps?