Geospatial and 5G rollout: Why they are critical for each other

Geospatial and 5G rollout: Why they are critical for each other


5G — the next generation of mobile internet connectivity — is the next buzzword. 5G will accelerate the move towards digital as a transformative ecosystem that combines Big data and Cloud, virtualization and augmentation, automation and intelligent machines, distributed computing and artificial intelligence to derive insights from data that is generated by billions of connected devices. It’s ubiquitous connectivity, low latency and incredible bandwidth will also present businesses with an innovation platform to help drive new revenue opportunities leveraging that data and enabling whole new experiences, according to Cisco.

Now that we have established 5G is the critical link for automated machines, driverless cars, smart cities, robotics, and may things more – in other words – a connected world, it would be prudent to explore the spatial aspects to it. To put it concisely, how geospatial and 5G will impact each other.

Accurate spatial data is key to 5G

Geospatial and 5G are interconnected. Accurate location information helps governments design better cities, focus public services and engage with citizens. And as cities get smarter, much of this location data have to be in real time. 5G’s higher frequencies — which is needed to carry huge amounts of data — have very short range which can be impacted by smallest of the obstructions. The signal is so sensitive it can be blocked by the palm of your hand, or even a raindrop. Therefore, accurate, authoritative geospatial data is fundamental here.

5G will also require denser telecom network — more towers placed selectively and strategically. Not just accurate geodata but advanced spatial analytics from tools like those from Esri is also crucial to planning placement of such infrastructure.

Recently, Ordnance Survey came up with a report that said the most cost-effective and simplest way for the UK to adopt 5G is through the creation of a ‘Digital Twin’. The report highlights the significance of appropriate spatial planning to make a cost effective 5G network, including high-resolution geospatial data integrated with a range of other information types served via a functionally-rich planning tool. Physical features not currently considered in network planning — including street furniture and vegetation and weather conditions — have a significant role to play here.

For instance, Ordnance Survey has created a “digital twin” of Bournemouth, which incorporated over 30 datasets to create a single 3D view of the town. This was integrated with 5GIC’s radio propagation model and overlaid with Met Office weather data to create a “live” digital environment, thus allowing the authorities to understand and address all the challenges of rolling out 5G from behind a desk.

DigitalGlobe is already working with the major telco operators in US on this. In addition to real-time, very high-resolution satellite data, it is delivering cutting-edge 3D models, DSMs, DTMs and more to make them ready for the roll out.

5G key to accurate spatial data

You read it right. The reverse is also true. 5G wireless promises higher capacity, more reliability, lower latency and improved coverage, thus bringing greater accuracy in positioning services. since telecom-based positioning technologies requires telecom stations to be synchronized to nanoseconds relative to each other.

With positioning expected to improve to sub-meter accuracy to even support 3D location estimates, technologies like autonomous vehicles and smart transportation and intelligent traffic systems will naturally get a boost.

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5G will also usher in new technology trends that will significantly impact the overall mobile network architecture, thus influencing the traditional positioning concepts as well. With location becoming fundamental to governance and all business process, the value of location-based services for industries such as advertising and marketing, transportation, retail, will only increase since the 5G rollout and its subsequent expansion will enable more mobile interaction opportunities.

Further, as wearable devices gain popularity, an increasing number of wearable technologies will be connected to the network, providing healthcare management, improve quality of life, and work efficiency, predicts Huawei.

As Cisco says, the appeal of 5G is that it isn’t just a new technology for service providers to upgrade their network but also it is about what it can do for their customers on their path to digitization.