Why edge networks are crucial for smart cities
AS a result of the rapid development of future technologies, enterprises everywhere have started adopting digital solutions to tackle their business problems and maximize productivity to increase revenue.
However, businesses aren’t the only ones adopting futuristic solutions.
Thanks to the proliferation of high tech devices and systems, there has been a steady momentum for smart cities initiative around the world in recent times, which look to implement future technologies to increase energy efficiency, enhance resource management and improve living standards of residents.
The internet of things (IoT), for example, could help reduce operating cost, boost safety, and reduce congestions, among other things.
While initiatives such as automated traffic management systems and waste management systems have already been implemented with great success in some cities, inevitably, these smart solutions will face the network and infrastructure limitation to securely handle the speed and size of the data that will be generated.
Thus, it becomes essential to leverage edge computing to enable in-device data processing — as the technology makes it easier to establish a sustainable smart city.
A newer generation of edge solutions
It is virtually impossible to implement an efficient and robust IoT system at a city scale without edge networks, and accordingly, a lot of developments in regards to edge and fog computing infrastructures are now focused on smart city applications.
Fog computing solutions, however, are being designed specifically to fill in the gap between cloud-computing and edge-computing for large-scale application.
IoT-to-cloud systems present latency issues, which could impair the dynamic data performances, on top of the security concerns of a centralized processing unit that deals with such broad-scale data feed.
These new smart city focused edge computing is markedly different from enterprise application in the main ways;
- Standalone edge networks — Application hosted within the network is independent of any cloud host and autonomous in concept with a peer-to-peer configuration of resources.
- Cloud-connected networks — Edge network that is independent could be loosely connected to various cloud solutions transmitting different data to different verticals.
- API-connected networks — Private business systems could connect directly into an edge network via API to stream real-time data without a cloud intermediary which boost efficiency and performances.
As agile as these networks are, independent edge networks need their own administration, maintenance plan, and security measures which could be a challenge in itself in terms of costs.
However, the independent edge solutions are cost-effective, enables scalability, and support public-private partnerships which allow cost-sharing, all factors that could potentially mitigate the high cost of implementation.
Some publicly owned data could be free while others could be made available for a fee.
In short, edge computing is essentially a viable solution for enterprises or cities to decentralize their data processing and analysis to ensure a dynamic and nimble IoT network.
As it has become apparent that collecting data has become relatively straightforward, the focus is now shifted to how the data is processed and how fast the data can be utilized. To that end, it seems like the key to unlocking the true potential of IoT now lies with edge computing and network technology.
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