5G sensors to monitor and improve coastal safety in Dorset

5G connected sensors are to be deployed along the Jurassic Coast to monitor land stability and cliff movement.

Jurassic Coast (Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay)

The deployment forms part of 5G RuralDorset, a government-backed project looking at how next generation connectivity can help rural communities.

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The project’s funding has been boosted to £8m and brings together Vodafone and Neutral Networks, computer scientists from Bournemouth University and geological expertise from the British Geological Survey and Dorset Council.

The research hopes to prove that by using 5G connected sensors, the process of data collection can be made safer, more cost effective, responsive, efficient and contribute to coastal resilience.

Dorset Council deputy leader Peter Wharf said: “Cliff failures present a very dangerous problem not only in Dorset but other coastal regions which see huge numbers of visitors every year. This research…is critical to people’s safety and the long-term prosperity of the area. Current monitoring methodologies are also very costly for the council and this new technology will hopefully provide significant savings in future.”

An array of autonomous IoT sensors will collect data such as ground movement, temperature and rainfall, which will then be processed using Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning.

Vodafone’s 5G/NB-IoT network will wirelessly transmit sensory readings to a data management platform on the Cloud where algorithms will mine the data to provide insights on cliff stability eventually enabling the so-called nowcasting of landslides.

Engineering geologist and landslide specialist Catherine Pennington of the British Geological Survey said: “Due to climate change, our sea levels are rising which means we will see an increase in erosion and landslide activity at the coast.

“Understanding these processes is important in building resilience for the future so we can adapt to these changes. This project is an opportunity to combine expertise to explore a different, cost-effective and efficient way of collecting landslide data. We hope the resulting system will help us understand the processes that drive coastal landslides as they happen in real-time.”

The system will be trialled at Lyme Regis and Burton Bradstock; coastal sites with active landslides posing public safety risks for the local community and especially visitors using the beach.