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City planners and technologists joined forces at Smart Cities Week 2018 in an exercise of simulation for businesses. The theme was the future the smart city, which is not at all far-fetched. All around the globe initiatives for intelligent, connected IoT-based urban centers are in various stages of development.

To understand the full scale of requirements, challenges and multiple tasks involved by such a mega structure, we browsed a recap of the simulation, as featured on IoT for All.

 

Things to expect when involved in a smart city project

Although the increased specialization in the technical field over the years may not equally put all participants in a project in a similar strategic posture, certain major challenges are bound to affect all. Even if layered in complementary projects, micro projects and various team types, the professionals who are part of the overall team do have to acknowledge the bigger picture.

What would a few of the common challenges might be? Lateral thinking is one of them. For the success of such a venture, those who make decisions, as well as those who decide for their own subsidiary area of responsibility need to bring an indirect and creative approach to the table.

Balancing the budget against what are indeed the much needed strategic investments is yet another must. Investing in new technologies blends together with retrofitting older structures. However, blending means seamless integration. The participants need to think things through. They also need to have a can do attitude, to grasp the big picture, as well as be quickly aware of the possible pressure or blockage points.

 

A process of bartering and flexible adaptation

The simulation in cause was extremely interesting due to the fact that it reunited city planners with the specialist in technology.  While the professionals in urban planning brought an approach forged during the specifics of their everyday activity, some of the technologists had their first opportunity to see how and why this type of project is different.

City planners are often reluctant to changes, stick by their budgets and need to understand the technology and translate it into financial lines. Understanding the technology alone took a while for some of the participants. The technologists had to meet them halfway in relation with certain issues.

Collaboration and strategy are key on the road to a functional smart city – as the author repeatedly underlines it. The aim and the measurement elements is the citizen quality of life – a notion that seems at hand, but needs defining. It also requires a sustained activity on the line of planning, so it would indeed materialize into better services, better living conditions and so on.

 

Keywords for activities related to the smart cities of the future

We selected a few keywords that might not be the first things that come to mind when contemplating the idea of smart city:

  • Multiple stakeholders
  • Constrained budgets
  • Challenging social dynamics

Other keywords are less surprising:

  • Economic growth
  • Intuitive infrastructure
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Collaborative processes

Materializing smart city projects may involve a sum of integrations. Some software solution can be adopted into such a project, while they previously existed in the private environment. Others can regard custom-made software programs and applications.

Whatever the case, having the right partner in software engineering is of great use. Our company is an example of such a partner – with the experience accumulated in our projects along the years, we can tackle IoT and mobile challenges related to the major ventures of the future.

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News

Recently, our colleague Petrut Ionel Romeo, Technical Project Manager, Lasting Software held the presentation entitled Satellite Communication solution for Cellular backhaul, as part of Codecamp Timişoara, the autumn edition.

In what is actually a solid business case for satellite – based mobile communications, he outlined the importance of this technology and its 2 main current key purposes, in a way that would make it clear and palatable by non-specialists and technical people altogether.

We will briefly recap the main ideas, leaving aside the more technical content. Nevertheless, let your imagination add to this material the context of a busy, dynamic conference, and you will have the image of a great day…

 

Satellite – related facts

Satellites (communication and weather), are situated in the geostationary orbit. This is to make it easier for the Earth-based antennae to maintain continuous communication. A geostationary orbit allows for the position of the orbiting object to remain constant.  To a stationary observer from Earth, it seems motionless.

In time, the number of satellites placed in the geostationary orbit became high enough to justify the new ring system made by all these devices being called the Geostationary Satellite Belt.

Having to control and maintain sophisticated pieces of technology at such a remote distance is a huge task. There are specific challenges linked to the system of satellites surrounding the Earth. Although by developing the technology at an impressive rate, the previous reach, maneuver and management issues have been solved in ways that were not possible a while ago, the physical premises (and not only) make satellite technology a highly demanding field.

Satellites operate in extreme thermal conditions, risk being hit by space debris, face the hostility of radiation belts and so on. Perhaps the simplest challenge to understand of them all would be that satellites are remote devices, with a specific procedure in place in order to access, maintain and repair.

By taking a look at the distance-related communication challenges, we may consider how:

  • The Clarke belt (the part of space in the plane of the equator, designated implementation area for near-geostationary orbits) is about 36.000km above sea level;
  • When speaking of communication back and forth, we are dealing with 72000km
  • Taking into consideration the speed of light, the resulting delay in transmissions is of approximately 250-270ms

However, despite these challenges, communication satellites also have a few particular traits that put them above any other communication-enabling technology located on Earth.

The unmatchable advantages of the communication satellites

Satellites are extremely important because in certain locations and/or circumstances, the terrestrial communication infrastructure is inefficient or even completely out of range/function.

There are 2 major (and we may add critical) situations where only satellite-enabled communications can support the flow of necessary data and messages.

  1. Geographically-isolated or architecturally-isolated spots
  • Often in rural and remote areas fiber and microwave transmissions are unavailable, as there is no business interest
  • Satellite communications are also efficient in mountains, deserts, islands, in other areas difficult to reach due to the landforms and/or structure
  • This type of communications may be of use in order to relieve congested urban areas: stadiums, malls, markets, academic centers
  1. Situations that require a solid communication infrastructure for emergency response

Satellite can act as a trustworthy fiber backup, since fiber is not that reliable. Faced with earthquakes or other cataclysms, both landline and fiber systems are easily down, unlike satellite-enabled communications, which become crucial for keeping in touch, monitoring and intervening in such moments.

 

Communication Satellites Architecture Options

In accordance with their type and with the communication needs they have to meet, satellites usually feature one of the following main architectural types, when it comes to data transmissions:

  1. Point to point links
    • When there is a limited number of links
    • For nb interface, for example
    • For very high speed trunks: +300 mbps
  1. Hub and Star architecture
  • Multiplex on forward and return
  • Smaller remote equipment

 

Mobile backhaul: key considerations

Mobile backhaul (MBH) is the process of data and voice transportation from distributed network sites to the network core. It enables mobile users to access the main data centers that host the content and applications.

Terrestrial backhaul is the traditional method. For a long while mobile and satellites existed in parallel, due to the costs involved in satellite operations. Once the more recent advances in satellite technology reduced the bandwidth costs – for example High Throughput Satellites (HTS) managed to bring an up to 70 % saving – satellite backhaul became a viable, attractive solution which is about to gain traction.

What does the shift towards satellite backhaul involve, as far as the mobile communications are concerned?

  • Mobile networks: Quality of Service (QoS) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are key for Voice traffic, Data traffic, Signaling, Management
  • The mobile equipment: configured to accept higher satellite delay
  • Mobile traffic: needs to be optimized to lower the cost of satellite bandwidth

 

Mobile traffic optimization

As mentioned above, traffic needs optimization, in order to make the most efficient use of the satellite bandwidth. To that avail, here are a few possible methods for each of the following telecommunication infrastructure types:

  • 2G TDM: remove silence and idle channels
    • Optimization on Abis can bring up to 50% bandwidth gain
    • Gains on Ater, A link and nb interface as well
  • 2G IP, 3G, 4G: leverage compression for headers (small packets), and payload (data)
  • VoLTE: compression of internal stacks as well (within GTP tunnel)

 

*Additional feature: accelerating TCP in 4G

  • TCP traffic  – captured transparently within GTP tunnel, by using “protocol spoofing”
  • A mechanism that tries to send as much data as possible, as soon as possible
  • The protocol uses the alternative window size mechanism, with a larger window – to increase throughput (RFC 1323)
  • The protocol implements alternative acknowledgment mechanism, reducing number of ACKs.

 

The importance and requirements of the satellite solution

Mobile network operators considered satellite backhaul as an attractive option for a long time. This is due to it being the only option in extreme situations, either permanent (remote or congested spots), or temporary (cataclysms, catastrophes, major downtime incidents). While it used to be a cost-prohibitive solution, the advances in technology now open up this option.

The new opportunities come with their own specific traits and requirements:

  • Spectral efficiency is essential in reducing the cost of satellite bandwidth
  • Quality of Service (QoS) is the key to being able to fulfil the mobile operators’ tight requirements
  • Flexibility is important. It accommodates the multiple mobile technologies (2G, 3G, 4G), and the various network configurations (including the rural low power consumption phenomenon)
  • The technology allows for bandwidth sharing and dynamic adjustment to real-time traffic and weather conditions
  • Scalability, which is critical for:
    • Typical mobile backhaul network: 20 to 100 remote sites
    • Typical small cell network: 1000 sites
    • Increasingly, mobile operators also want other services to be hosted on the same satellite solution, e.g. enterprise service, thus resulting more remotes

 

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Tech

5G links to Smart Manufacturing, which links to Industry 4.0. In fact the last two may be seen as one and the same thing.


Smart manufacturing and the Smart Factory is a broad category of manufacturing with the goal of optimizing the manufacturing process. Smart manufacturing is the process that employs computer controls, modeling, big data and other automation to improve manufacturing efficiencies.

Source


Although some big players are still reticent, important 5G promoters continue to develop this technology. Moreover, hands-on demos illustrate its key qualities. Continuous process monitoring is one of the areas 5G should bring shorter lead-times, while returning higher yield.

We took a look at one article occasioned by this year’s Industrial Manufacturing Show held in Chicago:


Industry 4.0 will rely on increasingly fast, secure, and often wireless, data transfers to optimize operations, increase automation and mitigate risk in manufacturing environments.

 

Potential 5G early adopters


Various sensitive industries that would highly benefit from a reduction in the production errors are potential early adopters.


The 5G article mentions the aeronautical industry and the manufacturing industry – when focusing on the production of sophisticate components.


The scope here is to make the collecting and processing of the sensor data, as well as the action of cutting control, take place in under one millisecond.


Research has pointed out that for this type of demands, “5G and cellular wireless can deliver, with its ultra-low latency and high reliability”.

 

What does 5G mean for industrial production?


As mentioned above, no network solutions before 5G have been able to provide instant monitoring and adjustment during production.


An extra benefit is that by storing production and sensor data for each manufactured product, the 5G supported manufacturing enables real-time digital twins. Whenever needed, this data is available and ready to serve in research, analysis, and risk assessment, or to answer other possible demands.

 

While waiting for 5G future developments


As our colleague Ionel Petrut, Project Manager at Lasting Software, mentioned in his presentation held this year for the SACI conference (IEEE 12th International Symposium on Applied Computational Intelligence and Informatics, SACI 2018, Timisoara, Romania):

 

The Internet of Things had a very big impact on the technology as we know today. One important aspect, not yet standardized, is the way in which objects connect to the network to function together. In particular, in the medical field, the Internet of Things faces a high number of technical limitations, most of them related to the electromagnetic emissions.

Until the 5G network will create the infrastructure for sensors to directly connect to the Internet, the connection through Bluetooth Low Energy remains the most suitable solution for Internet of Things connectivity.

 

We prove our software engineering skills and professional commitment by mastering the current technologies involved in the projects we are part of. But we also keep an eye on the latest developments, dreaming of the bold new world of fully deployed IoT capabilities.

 

Contact us for consultancy and partnerships – the future awaits!

 

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