UK5G and CGI have been looking at the water industry and how 5G factors into digitisation and digitalisation. The sector faces a rising tide of sustainability, regulatory and innovation challenges and operates in an environment literally as unpredictable as the weather. Balancing finite resource management against meeting consumer demands and expectations is a complex piece. Infrastructure deployed can be aged and is frequently in remote locations, weather and geography temperamentally dictating sources far from where demand is.
So, where does 5G feature in water? The ‘Connect to Innovate’ White Paper we’ve produced addresses this in some detail. Fundamentally it’s the convergence of connectivity, IoT (Internet of things) and automation (AI and Machine Learning) that unlocks powerful business capabilities. Data is all and widely generated across the water estate and, not unlike water itself, is often in the ‘wrong’ place. 5G edge connectivity easily accommodates narrow band and spread spectrum massive IoT data collection and high frequency data generated by plant or optical feeds. As data moves to higher frequencies (optical outputs >1Tb a day are becoming available) 5G’s Multiaccess Edge Computing (MEC) capabilities will come into their own managing ‘data deluge’ and keeping backhaul from being swamped. The flexibility 5G allows in solution architecture, and its ‘deployability’ compared to wire/fibre or 4G, give it many advantages when considering how to move your enterprise data around once you’ve caught it.
The data assets produced can, with simple automation or complex learning algorithms according to need, yield tools for asset and operational visibility through to valuable predictive and customer sentiment insights. The scenario is directly comparable to the way the adoption of Industry 4.0 has improved productivity and reduced environmental footprint in the manufacturing sector. The water sector may lag others in digitisation but it’s not from lack of ambition or vision (as evidenced by the examples in ‘Connect to Innovate’), rather it’s coping with the physical disposition of assets.
Connect to Innovate sets out the key challenges the water industry faces - mitigation of environmental impacts, critical asset management and meeting customer needs - and shows how innovators in the water sector are tackling these through digitisation. We are launching the White Paper on 10 November 2020 with an expert panel exploring the ramifications and implications going forward.
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