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Priya Natarajan, Head of Networking & Global Head of Service Provider GTM, Lenovo
Priya Natarajan, Head of Networking & Global Head of Service Provider GTM, Lenovo

Priya Natarajan, Head of Networking & Global Head of Service Provider GTM, Lenovo

In the technology world, hardly a day goes by without talking about cloud, IoT, Edge, Smart, etc. Our innate need for speed, combined with the modern possibilities of immersive experiences, drives the demand for 5G. The explosion of IoT is pushing computing closer to the user. The combination of 5G and Edge computing presents opportunities to advance user experience and improve productivity through smart applications.

While some automation level has made its way through many industry verticals, the ability to compute closer to the edge now makes it possible to apply context dynamically, reducing the need for human interference. Let’s look at some examples of different verticals and how CIOs can prepare for them.

Smart transportation:

Reliable autonomous smart transportation requires real-time obstruction detection. It also requires the intelligence to distinguish between stationary and mobile objects, estimate the speed and distance and avoid encounters. Through APIs, the traffic light status can be communicated with vehicles to prepare them for stopping, if necessary. Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) plays a huge role in making this a possibility. This enables both vehicle to vehicle communication as well as communications to the central edge or other locations.

  ‚ÄčEdge orchestration and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) become critical to the success of MEC nodes and consequently, to your smart plan 

Smart Tourism:

While CCTVs have been around for a while, MEC and 5G and other technologies are changing the game. With the combination of AI, video analytics, and real-time navigation, cities can guide tourists to different locations, navigate them through shopping areas, and market to them. For instance, it will be easier to match the tourist’s preference and budget with a restaurant recommendation in the vicinity. While this dynamic recommendation level drives better engagement and improves the experience, it requires excellent computing capabilities at the edge, high bandwidth, and low latency.

In addition to smart transportation and safety, the connected environment in the cities offers additional benefits, including improving the quality of life for the inhabitants, and improving economic opportunities for the local businesses. It may be possible to quickly and easily schedule city services, pay bills, etc. Likewise, vendors can offer preference-based marketing to drive higher conversion rates. This improvement in the quality of life will further drive up the popularity of the city, attracting more residents, who, in turn, will contribute more tax revenues.

In addition to these verticals, let’s also look at smart manufacturing.

Smart manufacturing:

Robotics has helped manufacturing to evolve over the years. Now, manufacturing can adapt dynamically through the combination of AI, Edge, 5G, small cell, and other technologies. Every action can be guided remotely, increasing productivity and reducing downtime. In the production process, it will be easier to spot anomalies and enforce quality assurance dynamically using real-time monitoring.

Data collected from industrial IoT and sensors across different manufacturing facilities can be analyzed to predict issues and do preventive maintenance. Further, this provides the opportunity to analyze the manufacturing process for potential improvements. 

The manufacturing value chain stands to benefit from this automation. It will become easier to monitor inventory levels, automatically order replacements, track the location, and estimate when you will receive the new orders, etc. On the outbound front, it is possible to auto deliver packages to the right locations within the warehouse.

Putting it all together:

Manufacturing can gain a lot from the advancements in technology, just like smart cities and smart transportation. However, these solutions require that many technologies come together and are integrated well. Often times, different vendors provide different components, requiring the CIOs to integrate and test them, before reaping the rewards. Added to this are the additional ongoing maintenance and support issues, requiring dealing with different vendors for different components.

Key things to consider:

Deploying MEC on the streets and remote areas comes with its own challenges. In addition to connectivity and support, smart city CIOs need to factor in two major categories: one is about software, and the other is about hardware.

On the hardware front, deploying MECs at rugged locations and / or remote locations may limit steady power availability. The security of both the device and the data stored in the device is important.

On the software front, deploying such devices throughout the city requires seamless management from a central location. CIOs need to be able to update software, allocate or reallocate resources on-demand. They also need the ability to update OS on the hardware and manage the physical infrastructure. Edge orchestration and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) become critical to the success of MEC nodes and consequently, to your smart plan.  With the right technology, it is possible to address these challenges while bringing smart verticals mainstream.

How to proceed?

With over $129 billion in smart city initiatives and $214 billion in smart manufacturing market size just in 2020, it is imperative that the architecture be designed well to scale and be future-ready. Instead of taking a DIY approach to smart solutions, CIOs should focus on accelerating time to value. They can benefit from the know-how of Lenovo with wide experience in software, compute, and edge.

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