Edge Cloud – the catalyst for a new era of public services?

As the public sector becomes more dependent on data, the need to process data instantly is increasing. Will edge cloud revolutionise service delivery?

The world is largely driven and supported by data. However, our future is dependent upon data – driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) – to make public services more efficient. The term ‘smart city’ has existed for over 30 years, yet only in the last 10 years have we seen the true baseline for the future of smart city development to deliver smarter, safer, more environmentally friendly cities for citizens. A smart city doesn’t have to be a city but is defined as a place that uses technology and sensors to collect data to improve operations or services.

With the current, critical, climate crisis, London is a leader in new CleanTech products and is utilising IoT sensors that monitor air quality of any city to model and forecast emissions. Additionally, it has installed 12,000 LED’s which are automated using a central management system, providing a 60% energy saving, improving public safety, and reducing maintenance costs. Traffic flow is being improved by using automated sensors to adjust traffic lights, and increasing the frequency of London underground trains based on the platform footfall at certain times.

These developments are driven through utilising real-time data, IoT sensors, and primarily using edge cloud.

What is Edge Cloud?

Edge cloud is an extension of existing regions that are part of a bigger network, bringing micro data centres closer to where content is created and consumed. The micro data centres are scaled down and located in closer proximity to end users, humans, and machines.

 

Why do we need to get data and applications closer to end-users?

By bringing data and applications closer to end-users, latency is reduced, and bandwidth is increased. This is ideal for applications with low-latency requirements such as virtual reality, video conferencing, remote surgery, or other mission critical applications; while most applications can tolerate latency of 100 milliseconds, these applications have a sub-50 millisecond requirement.

 

What are the drivers of edge cloud?

Public sector is becoming hungrier for innovation and efficiency, with edge cloud and real-time data processing enabling rapid decision making and a more timely outcome. Performing these analytics locally cuts latency and response times, benefiting public sector workers and citizens. Whilst signal strength and bandwidth has increased over the years there is still some intermittent connectivity. This means that real time decision making is limited for cloud services such as computing, storage, backup and analytics which is crucial for services that need to remain uninterrupted. High bandwidth applications such as video surveillance require the use of edge storage so data can be transmitted, processed and stored in a closer proximity, on the ‘edge’.

To achieve this significant transition into not just smart cities, but a smarter world, public sector will need to utilise edge cloud capabilities– unlocking the ability to drive actionable insight. That’s not to say it’s crucial for every application, because it isn’t. Applications which are not time-sensitive and need large scale data analysis require cloud computing. Therefore, edge cloud simply unravels the opportunities for low-latency applications which can be used to enhance public safety, provide real-time energy consumption data, and give more accurate traffic reports. Therefore, it is simply an evolution to cloud-based services.

Without bringing cloud to the edge, the smart technologies that London has already adopted would not be functional or effective. The automated streetlights and air quality sensors would not have the infrastructure to make them work. The way forward in making our world smarter is driven by the need to use a combination of centrally hosted cloud services and edge processing to transform public sector services and drive a true digitally connected world.