The emerging use cases for 5G

I was lucky to recently join my colleagues in Dubai, where Axis has been proud to be one of the companies featured in the Swedish Pavilion at World Expo 2020. It’s been a real honor for us to be representing Swedish innovation alongside so many other great brands from the country.

While I enjoyed the whole experience of visiting World Expo, I was there for a specific reason – an event we hosted to look at the potential and emerging use cases of 5G networks across different industries.

Although 5G has obviously been talked about few years now, it really feels as though we’re starting to reach a tipping point around its potential. That feeling may not be shared by everyone reading this blog, as it’s true that the rollout of 5G in happening at a different pace in different parts of the world. I live in Singapore, and as is the case across many markets in Asia, the momentum behind 5G deployments is clear to see, with some markets taking the opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ previous generations of telecoms infrastructure.

5G: a different proposition to previous generations

It’s undeniable that some compelling use cases for 5G are emerging, though perhaps not in the way that some may have imagined. Previous generations of telecom network enhancements – particularly 3G and 4G – we largely focused on the benefits these brought to consumers through faster and more reliable mobile network connections. Some may have felt that 5G would be the same, but while that’s true to an extent, 5G’s real benefits are being seen in more industrial, business and public sector applications.

In enabling much faster, more secure, and higher-bandwidth connections between sensors and devices – the so-called Internet of Thing (IoT) – the potential for 5G in supporting data aggregation and analysis is huge. This creates some fantastic opportunities, and I used my presentation at World Expo to explore a few.

Enabling autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles – sometimes referred to as self-driving vehicles – need to interact in real time to the external environment. Where human drivers use sight and hearing for the awareness needed for safe driving, autonomous vehicles use a variety of connected sensors to build an awareness of what is happening outside the vehicle and react appropriately.

A number of these sensors – such as LiDAR, radar, and sonar – help the vehicle understand what is around it and react accordingly. Other vehicles slowing ahead or changing lanes, people stepping into crossings, and hazards on the road will all be detected and appropriate action automatically taken.

Increasingly, the sensors within an autonomous vehicle are communicating with sensors outside the vehicle, such as traffic signals, bus stops, and sensors on emergency services vehicles. In these cases, it is essential that the communications between these sensors is not only reliable, but happens in real time, and 5G represents an ideal technology to provide these connections.

Autonomous vehicles, particularly those using low emission and renewable energy, will be central to the mobility and sustainability goals of urban centers around the world. And as these increasingly become smart cities, where sensors and data are connected throughout the city’s limits, the ability for vehicles to ‘communicate’ with the city’s infrastructure will be essential. 5G represents the ideal solution.

A clear channel for emergency services

Public safety is also high on the agenda of city authorities around the globe, and effective response by emergency services to incidents is critical. Unfortunately, previous examples of large-scale incidents and disasters have seen communications networks overwhelmed by traffic, therefore impeding the ability for emergency services to respond effectively.

5G networks bring the benefit of providing an easier option than previous generations to ‘slice’ the network for specific applications, so-called private networks. City authorities will have the opportunity to allocate slices of the 5G network capacity to emergency services, allowing seamless and uninterrupted communication, including both video and audio, and enabling faster and more effective response to incidents.

A role in smart factories

Manufacturing facilities are also becoming increasingly connected environments, and 5G-enabled private networks – particularly given their enhanced security – could become the de facto communication technology within them.

Smart factories are increasingly the norm, with robots employed throughout the facility, and multiple types of sensor used to monitor operations. Surveillance cameras as high-quality visual sensors in themselves are being used in a variety of ways beyond the traditional monitoring of safety and security, and when connected with other sensors their applications grow further.

Analytics embedded in modern surveillance cameras – particularly those enabled with deep learning capabilities – can monitor operations within smart factories, creating alerts should, for instance, a robot malfunction and move beyond defined boundaries. When connected to heat, vibration and emissions sensors on critical machinery, cameras can provide a visual check and allow rapid remedial action. All connected by 5G.

Here today, ready for tomorrow

It may seem that 5G has taken a while to become reality, and in some regions it may still seem slightly out of reach. But in those parts of the world where 5G is already enabled, it’s value and potential is starting to be realized. The rest of the world will catch up, and soon.

You can find out more about our ‘share in the discovery of 5G’ sessions at World Expo 2020 here.

Join the event!