Waterloo becomes one of Canada's first 5G smart campuses

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The University of Waterloo and Rogers Communications partner on advanced research for Canadian-made 5G solutions in a real-world setting

The University of Waterloo has become one of the first 5G smart campuses in Canada as part of a partnership with Rogers Communications that leverages the University’s global leadership in computing, engineering and co-operative education.

The smart campus is part of a plan by Rogers to advance 5G research in the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor and to become a global leader in 5G technology, which promises to transform businesses, industries and cities. This week, Rogers announced that it has expanded its 5G network to over 50 new Canadian towns and cities including Waterloo and the University of Waterloo campus, which builds on an existing multimillion-dollar partnership agreement with Waterloo.

The launch of 5G across Canada marks the next big step in evolving the way Canadians connect to the world around them. Expected to be the most transformative technology since wireless services were introduced in 1985, 5G will make real-time connectivity a reality, accelerating the transition to a truly digitally connected world.

“I am delighted to celebrate this milestone in our partnership with Rogers Communications and with our campus community,” said Charmaine Dean, Waterloo’s vice-president, research and international. “As home to the first 5G smart campus in central Canada, Waterloo’s extensive research expertise will allow us to support Rogers in this initiative and continue to lead the way to an innovative future for Canada.”

Waterloo’s new smart campus will be a live test bed for advanced research into the design and operation of the network, and the infrastructure necessary to develop and test technologies that 5G will enable. Beyond the technology, it’s also an important step in furthering a culture of innovation, engagement, and collaboration. “Our intention is to be there for the long term and our intention is to transform the experience for all the constituents in the University,” said Neel Dayal, director of innovation and partnerships at Rogers.

Rogers is working with GEDI (Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation), Waterloo’s corporate relations office.

The partnership includes research on:

  • 5G smart city infrastructure monitoring and alerting systems
  • 5G asset tracking technologies and capabilities
  • 5G network design and operations research 
  • 5G network slicing
  • Multi-access edge computing (MEC) 

“We are collaborating with some of the best and brightest in the country to make 5G a reality, and the University of Waterloo stands out for its engineering and technological expertise,” said Dayal. “We are very excited about the made-in-Canada 5G technology that this partnership will bring.”

Dayal said Rogers also plans to engage and hire Waterloo co-op students and new grads. A new recruitment program, which includes a hackathon and a new scholarship, will allow students to explore skills, teams and career paths at Rogers.

Rogers and Waterloo hope that close partnership will spur on development of technologies and solutions beyond 5G, into 6G and beyond.

5G Waterloo researchers include:

  • 5G for Internet of Things: George Shaker, adjunct associate professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering 
  • 5G-ELITE: Raouf Boutaba, professor and director, Cheriton School of Computer Science, network architecture and management using AI
  • Architectural Alternative for Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC): Samer Al-Kiswany, assistant professor and Martin Karsten, associate professor, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
  • 5G Enabled Smart Infrastructure Applications: Sriram Narsimhan, professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Alexander Wong, associate professor, Systems Design Engineering and Canada Research Chair in AI and Medical Imaging, and Chul Min Yeum, assistant professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Data driven planning and operation of 5G networks: Catherine Rosenberg, professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Canada Research Chair and Cisco Research Chair in 5G Systems

When Rogers leaders wanted to explore the best way to demonstrate how 5G technology could benefit Canadians, they engaged their students working on a Capstone Design project. The result was a concept for a Holoportation Mystery Box, which would allow baseball fans to have a conversation with players. Although still in concept stage, it gives Canadians a hands-on experience of what 5G can do. Attending an event and interacting with people across the country, virtual tactile shopping, and improving virtual reality headsets and better access during emergencies for first responders are all possibilities with 5G.

“It’s fun seeing the potential of this technology and how different the future may look,” says Sydney Lamorea, a Master of Digital Experience and Innovation student at Rogers and the holoportation mystery box project leader.

Working with Rogers provided opportunities for the student group to develop a tangible concept, build teamwork skills, and pitch their 5G idea to the marketing team.

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