5G is set to transform the way mobile networks are designed and the way they are used, going way beyond simply improving the functionalities offered by 4G. Thanks to its low latency and its ability to connect millions of devices in a small area, among other advantages, it is set to bring numerous new business opportunities and value-added services.
In 2020, 5G deployment accelerated across the globe. Although it had already been consolidated in some regions, many countries have recently begun to move beyond the pilot testing phase and transitioning to a business model. For Idrica, the water cycle management specialist, 5G is set to make a huge splash in 2021 on the inevitable road towards digital transformation.
“Its strategic nature stems from its potential to transform all industries, including water cycle management. It represents a profound change in the way mobile networks are designed and in the way they are utilized, resolving the difficulty of implementing use cases with increasingly diverse requirements in telecommunications networks. The ultra-flexibility of 5G networks opens up a whole range of opportunities at global level,” said Chema Nebot, Idrica’s Business Development Director.
Use cases need to be defined and implemented based on the network deployments already available, to transform water infrastructure management. “Autonomous operation of infrastructures, massive connection of devices and the use of real-time data are going to make a difference this year, demonstrating how 5G can contribute to the end-to-end management of water cycle infrastructure. Its versatility, together with advances in other areas, such as the use of sensors, promises to build smarter water utilities,” added Nebot.
In the opinion of the Idrica executive, these are the seven 5G use cases that are set to revolutionize the water industry:
1 – The connection of millions of devices. 5G can handle up to 1,000 sensors per km2, which guarantees the coexistence of smart meters with the digital transformation of other meters, and with smart devices on the streets and in homes. The connection of millions of devices in a small area, thanks to MIoT (Massive Internet of Things), is a major new development.
2 – Extending the lifetime of sensors. Some 5G features reduce battery consumption by up to 50% compared to current levels. This will extend the lifetime of sensors, decreasing costs and enhancing the sustainability of the active sensor network.
3 – Improved security protocols. As infrastructure becomes more digital, utilities must be ready to stop cyber-attacks that could put the population at risk. 5G technology delivers increased reliability thanks to improved security protocols. In addition, it ensures network ubiquity, i.e. uninterrupted coverage.
4 – Proprietary network slicing. Critical infrastructure operators will be able to apply the network slicing concept and have their own communications network. The implementation of robust, preset quality parameters will be crucial when designing and managing use cases for these communication networks. This is another 5G use case that stands to revolutionize the water industry.
5 – Safe decisions close to the sensors. An increase in the amount of information available, together with edge computing technology will facilitate the definition of algorithms to make safe decisions close to the sensors that generate data. Decision-making will improve thanks to the use of business process data in real time and algorithm performance for process automation, energy efficiency and infrastructure maintenance will be optimized.
6 – Real-time remote control. In Industry 4.0. and smart factories, autonomous irrigation and plant operation, as well as robot driving via 5G, will be commonplace. In the area of wastewater, sewerage inspections could be conducted by drones in real time in the future, improving visibility in areas that are difficult to access or unsuitable for operators.
7 – Finally, remote technical assistance will become a reality. This is a very interesting alternative to face-to-face technical assistance, as it would do away with the need for experts to travel whilst providing utilities with access to highly specialized knowledge from anywhere in the world. In addition, 5G could be used to drive autonomous vehicles for sowing and harvesting in agriculture.
Idrica is a leading international technology company for the water industry, specializing in digital solutions. It brings together more than a decade of experience in the industry in the areas of business management, O&M, engineering and consultancy in order to deliver digital solutions around the world. Thanks to its integrated water cycle platform, GoAigua, it boosts digital transformation in water utilities.
It operates in Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, providing solutions that serve over seven million users. Its headquarters are located in Valencia (Spain) and it has a team of more than 200 experts.
Idrica was born after the successful digital transformation of Global Omnium, a Spanish company with more than 130 years of history that currently manages the water supply of over 400 cities.