Edge orchestration: The key to managing Smart City initiatives
By Monika Valdez, Solutions Architect, Nearby Computing
Local governments and companies are investing in the deployment of 5G networks to improve the services they provide to citizens and, at the same time, increase efficiency. Incorporating new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and automatic learning to improve the management of cities and their services, such as public safety or traffic management, is already a reality. Edge computing is the key that makes this smart universe possible.
5G entails a significant increase in the amount of data transferred through networks, so it is crucial to guarantee the performance and security of the network connections. The strategic approach to enable distributed networks is to offer low latency in data processing in which the workloads are placed at the edge. This is where edge computing comes into play. Thanks to its distributed management and network model, applications and workloads requiring low latency can be catered to by moving them closer to the consumers and/or the locations where this data is being generated.
Edge computing and workload orchestration is a vital part of the deployment of 5G to realize the implementation of Smart Cities through orchestration. This technology enables the supervision of traffic flow, the management of the transport system, efficient waste collection, optimization of public lighting, and automated response to certain critical situations, such as emergencies.
A GSMA-winning use case of 5G networks and emergency management
The 5G Catalonia pilot, one of the winners of funding for the development of 5G Smart City pilots from the Spanish government within the framework of the National 5G Plan and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), demonstrated a use case for 5G networks to improve emergency management, traffic monitoring, and urban safety & security.
The project enabled the validation of 5G Standalone and Open RAN networks in a complex fabric of devices and different applications to provide wide bandwidth and support low latency that improves traffic management and agents’ safety and security during their work exercise in an urban environment.
Specifically, 5G networks have proven to be valid for preventing critical situations as the technology facilitates rapid intervention of emergency teams. The agents have real-time access to multiple sources of information, which optimizes and speeds up decision-making in cases where the time factor and access to all data are critical.
The components during the use case demonstration, such as the control center, the police vehicle, agents on foot, 5G IP cameras, and wearables, i.e., wrist sensors, body-worn cameras, and 5G handsets, which are sources of information, are connected to an automated and flexible orchestration layer on top of 5G.
The following applications were leveraged in conjunction with the components mentioned above.
- Mission Critical Push-to-Talk that enabled one-to-one and group voice and video communications.
- Video Analytics for Traffic Management that was responsible for traffic analysis and incident detection, providing critical data to traffic managers.
- High-Precision Geolocation that allowed accurate detection and positioning of agents’ locations of up to 10cm accuracy, based on the corrected signal.
- Live Video Management that provided real-time video streaming from agents’ body-worn cameras.
- Smart Wristband for Heart Rate Monitoring was utilized to monitor the agents’ heart rate and provide alerts based on defined thresholds (in bpm).
- Unified dashboard that aggregates data from several sources, i.e., GPS, body-worn cameras, and smart wristbands, and provides a global view of the aggregated data through the dashboard.
- Police Vehicle Connection allowed agents on the vehicle to have access to the 5G network and the dashboard through the server, CPE, and tablet installed in the car.
Lastly, the 5G network allows remote management of end devices and the transmission of data and video images with minimal latency, almost in real-time. Security forces can anticipate, detect, and analyze complex situations through the ability of 5G to support high bandwidth and low latency applications. In effect, decisions can be made rapidly and effectively in a secure, hierarchical, and traceable sharing environment of resources possible through edge computing technology and systems orchestration.
Requirements for an edge orchestration platform
The Catalonia Smart City project demonstrates the need for edge computing automation and orchestration software to manage massively distributed computing networks. Some of the requirements for such a solution include the following:
- End-to-end, cross-domain orchestration capabilities built for speed, performance, and availability for latency-sensitive, data-intensive, and mission-critical applications.
- A multi-cluster automation platform to manage a multi-cloud, multi-tenant, multi-site, multi-platform scenario
- The ability to deliver management abilities across all network tiers – from the cloud to the data center to the edge, all through a single pane of glass.
- The solution needs to cover all critical elements of deployment automation — from the initial zero-touch provisioning of the edge nodes to deploying telco functions and straightforward application onboarding to lifecycle management, QoS Assurance, and SLA monitoring.
Unified and distributed management and orchestration of the infrastructure, network, and applications will enable government entities to realize the potential for the Smart City programs of the future.
About the author
Monika Valdez is a Solutions Architect for Nearby Computing, who has developed Edge Computing automation and orchestration software to allow 360º management of massively distributed computing networks and has led 5G Smart City pilot projects. Before joining Nearby Computing, Monika was an Integration and Migration Engineer at Globe Telecom Philippines. She was responsible for crafting end-to-end technical low-level designs related to NFV, 4G, and 5G technologies.
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5G | edge orchestration | edge platform | IoT | Nearby Computing | smart city