The first wave of digital transformation was all about data. Companies have empowered knowledge workers with analytics to support faster, better decision making. IoT has transformed the supply chain, helping companies to keep track of assets, products and staff. Workers on the road using mobile devices to get up to date job information and route planning have become more productive and safer.
Speaking of which, Quicklight are a perfect example of a business transformed by digital technologies. Before using Total Workforce Mobility, engineers had to carry around paperwork related to jobs and customer sites at all times — this slowed down their ability to respond to lighting issues or emergency jobs.
With Total Workforce Mobility, Quicklight’s engineers can now access all the information they need on Samsung smartphones, meaning they can act more quickly on every job. The result is happier customers and, as a result of less paperwork, happier engineers.
The next wave of digital innovation will be all about using that data in real-time by both people and machines – from allowing robots and humans to work safely side by side to providing emergency workers with lifesaving information.
The real-time use of data for critical applications — such as the autonomous cranes used to unload ships or remote surgery — requires not just fast, reliable network connections, but also incredibly low latency. Delays are simply not an option if a company is to introduce robots safely within a hospital or production setting alongside the human workforce or a port with autonomous vehicles.
And this is why Edge Computing is so exciting. Moving computing to the edge of the network, Edge Computing reduces network congestion and speeds up application performance. That means no time is lost in transferring data, with sensors and devices acting in milliseconds to make the above applications (and more) possible.
Just consider what can happen when response times are reduced to milliseconds. Using Edge Computing, Digital Barriers is connecting first responders and their body-worn cameras with immediate intelligence in the vicinity of incidents of emergencies – and empowering them to make better critical decisions.
Combining live video streams from multiple cameras and sensors to gather a multi-dimensional view of a situation is providing vital, real-time information for hospital staff, including clinicians and trauma teams. With the ability to deal with critical events in milliseconds, emergency services will be able to reduce the time it takes to respond.
Distributed Edge Computing supports multiple businesses and is embedded at the edge of a public 4G or 5G network. This is useful for moving assets, such as self-driving vehicles, which need to be connected and analyse data in a matter of milliseconds. Alternatively, a company can opt for Dedicated Edge Computing which is built for just one business alongside a Mobile Private Network (MPN) to provide a dedicated connection.
This can open up new possibilities in sites that previously couldn’t be connected. One car manufacturer, for example, is evaluating how Edge Computing and 5G could extend its low-touch production model by enabling a car to drive itself from the plant to the storage lot. HORIBA MIRA is using ultra-low latency 5G MPN and Edge Computing to explore Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology and the future of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). With real-time data transfer, HORIBA MIRA can test solutions that go beyond the human line of sight, from co-operative collision to automatic rerouting around obstacles. This vehicle to infrastructure technology is providing vital insight into the future of autonomous cars, understanding the movement of potentially vulnerable road users and paving the way for integrating V2X into everyday life in a smart city.
5G and Edge Computing will provide the reliable, low-latency communications needed to safely expand the use of drones for last-mile delivery, providing a far cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution for retailers and logistics companies. But drones also create security concerns – which is why Dedrone is using Edge Computing to keep track of drones and safeguard airspace.
Integrating its counter-drone platform into Vodafone Business’ Edge Computing solutions, Dedrone provides companies’ security teams with automated alerts and images in the event of a drone intrusion. Businesses are warned immediately if a drone has entered forbidden airspace, enabling real-time action to remove the potential threat.
The second wave of digital transformation is here: with the ultra-low latency provided by Edge Computing, real-time data analysis can be embedded into a vast array of new applications – from digitalising manufacturing to safeguarding citizens and workers, transporting medical supplies by drone, even eliminating motion sickness when wearing a VR headset.
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