Photo by Mylo Kaye

Julia Lopez MP met with Vivacity Labs, Weaver Labs and Transport for Greater Manchester to explore AI-based traffic signal optimisation

Last week, Julia Lopez MP visited Salford Crescent in Greater Manchester to explore the future of transport through a private 5G network trial. The meeting was led by Vivacity Labs, Weaver Labs and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), which showcased cutting edge traffic signal technology designed to reduce congestion and emissions in the Manchester area.

Representatives from the project partners, including Maria Lema, Co-Founder at Weaver Labs and Alex Yeomans, Technical Project Manager at Vivacity Labs, discussed the initiative, which is one of the first OpenRAN deployments in the UK. With the goal of creating a public sector owned 5G private network, Weaver Labs is working with TfGM and Vivacity Labs to address the core technical and commercial aspects of 5G, including openness and diversity in the telecoms supply chain.

The network enhances the Vivacity Labs Smart Junctions Project – an AI-based traffic signal optimisation system, currently being deployed in Manchester, which has already proven to decrease journey times by up to 23%. By using an edge-based 5G small cell network, Vivacity Labs is decreasing infrastructure cost for the connection of the sensors at every junction. Critically, the system requires low-latency communications to achieve its goal – making small cell 5G the perfect technology to deliver this saving.


Vivacity Labs and Weaver Labs are working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester, an existing project partner for the Smart Junctions product with a non-5G deployment of the system already operating in Manchester. TfGM is exploring the further benefits of adding 5G to the product, to the public sector and beyond, including removing the need to mount hardware to existing infrastructure. Also, by providing a new business case to promote capital investment into 5G Private Networks, TfGM is incentivising the public sector to contribute with connectivity assets, which could be rented for use by Mobile Network Operators.

Julia Lopez MP commented: “It was fantastic to see this cutting-edge 5G technology in action and the positive impact it’s having cutting pollution and making getting around Manchester easier. We’re keen that what we learn about the benefits of smart traffic technology is shared across the UK – and this is one of many innovative projects we’re funding to pioneer new ways for 5G to improve lives.”

Vivacity’s sensors and Smart Junctions signal control use artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather accurate, detailed and anonymous data 24/7 on transport modes, traffic flow and travel patterns, supporting strategic decisions to help optimise the transport network and improve urban infrastructure.

Mark Nicholson, CEO and Co-Founder at Vivacity Labs, added: “Working alongside Weaver Labs and TfGM has powered real change in the Manchester area. Through smarter signal control, we have a huge opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality. We look forward to working more closely with Julia and central and local governments across the UK to make our data-driven  smart, safe and sustainable vision for transport a reality.”

Weaver Labs builds Cell-Stack, a software product to manage telecoms infrastructure to access it as a service, with an extensive focus on Smart Cities. Cell-Stack aggregates all the telecoms infrastructure that exists in a region in a shared pool of assets, it then opens it up to be consumed in an open marketplace. Weaver Labs is prioritising interoperability between different networks, allowing for the integration of neutral host networks and extension of public networks into private.

Maria Lema, Co-Founder at Weaver Labs, added: “The work we’re doing alongside Vivacity Labs and TfGM is going a long way in creating an open and diverse telecoms supply chain. Looking ahead, dedicated funding is required to help authorities transition to the latest technology. We look forward to working with Julia and governments across the UK to make this a reality.”

Peter Boulton Head of Highways at TfGM comments: “DCMS 5G Smart Junctions project is a great opportunity for TfGM and Salford (as the testbed location) to deliver on our policy objectives. To achieve GM decarbonisation and green objectives, we must utilise innovative digital & technologies to maximise the efficiency of our highway infrastructure. With a move toward a data driven approach on both infrastructure & connected vehicles to help us better understand and manage the city region. We are looking to change the focus beyond improving car journeys at traffic signals,  improving the experience to other road users such as pedestrians/cyclist and public transport users.

Working in partnership with SMEs the project’s learnings will help TfGM better understand the opportunities of this technology, building a lasting connectivity corridor for future technology trials – the Smart Junctions project could offer a blueprint to be replicated and scaled across the Greater Manchester region and the UK.”