The future looks bright for 5G connectivity in smart city environment

The current Smart Otaniemi Platforms & Connectivity pilot will continue at least until the end of April. The planning of the next steps has already started, including continuation of current activities and new extensions. It is clear that tight cooperation between the industrial sectors is required to get information flowing.

The Platforms & Connectivity pilot uses the existing 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF) and research data platform that are technically ready for much wider exploitation than has so far been utilized. The current research platform has connections to systems in the field of building automation and energy market such as EnerKey, Schneider AtmosCare, GEF, Modbus, EnOcean, Granlund Metrix, EDI messages in electricity market and open data via FMI’s and Fingrid’s APIs. Technical interoperability with many other APIs exists and the connection can be opened if necessary.

One example of cooperation is Nokia´s contribution to the Platforms & Connectivity pilot. Nokia, VTT and Aalto University have opened the access to 5GTNF in order to give a real testing environment for this pilot project. The test network supports both 4G and 5G accesses. The core network is in Espoo, Tampere, and Oulu, whereas radio access with related base stations is located at the academic institutes’ premises. Nokia’s role includes also supporting research on wireless sensor networks and common data platform.
‒ The pilot project has provided an excellent basis for a better understanding of the technical actions needed for smart energy issues and how 5G technology is the enabler to get better connectivity needed for smart energy topics, concludes Technology Consultant Matti Keskinen from Nokia Mobile Networks.

From Nokia’s viewpoint, the pilot can demonstrate the usability of 5G technology in all use cases of the project where wireless connectivity is needed.
‒ Furthermore, we wish that the findings of the project will be usable also in other areas using 5G e.g. industrial or smart city, Keskinen adds.

 

The 5G is continuously evolving

Smart Otaniemi is exploiting results from 5G R&D projects e.g. 5G-FORCE and utilizes them in the selected pilot cases. According to Senior Scientist Teemu Vesanen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, the new applications and services have been more technology oriented due to non-technical challenges. These include drones for inspecting the status of large PV installations or cooling systems on the building roof, self-sustained mobile base station to allow remote monitoring and control during short outages, remote monitoring of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and smart EV charging focusing on connectivity between charging points and back-end server.
‒ Inspection drones look very promising. In our pilots, a drone with video and thermal camera communicating over real-time 4G/5G link is used. However, drone flights obviously require radio permissions, good weather conditions, and appropriate insurance, says Principal Scientist Seppo Horsmanheimo from VTT.

The connectivity goals have been completed, but additional work is needed to deploy more extensively 5G, NB-IoT and wireless sensor technologies in specified use cases. Non-technical challenges have constrained the exploitation, and 5G technology will be taken into use in stages.
‒ There is still lack of e.g. tangible use-cases between industry sectors, business models, contractual models, data ownership and access control rules. These need to be solved before commercial data business can take a major step forward, says Vesanen.

 

Proposal for next Smart Otaniemi pilot coming soon

Moreover, additional work is needed to scale up pilots and investigate ways for improving reliability and flexibility for operational use. A digital twin has been implemented to complement physical pilots, but commercial implementation of the platform is still missing.
‒ We have identified what is needed, but we also found out that we don’t have a complete solution inside the consortium. Therefore, we decided to collaborate with Platform of Trust (https://platformoftrust.net/). The technical background exists and has been tested, but on the non-technical side we need external help to get things forward, says Vesanen.

The plan for the final months of the pilot is to do very practical trials with Platform of Trust to better understand how it works. In addition, further plans are already being made for the next piloting phase, where Platform of Trust is the common platform, and companies either provide data or offer services based on the data.
‒ The goal is to follow other ecosystem projects and see what types of solutions they have for data management and sharing. Moreover, the plan is to exchange information about experiences and lessons learnt, adds Vesanen.

 

More information:
Platforms & Connectivity pilot’s page
Seppo Horsmanheimo, Principal Scientist, VTT, +358 40 542 3599, seppo.horsmanheimo@vtt.fi
Teemu Vesanen, Senior Scientist, VTT, +358 40 593 2918, teemu.vesanen@vtt.fi

 

Text: Sirpa Mustonen, Motiva