China Unicom and Huawei took to this year's China Unicom Partner Conference & Communication Terminal Fair to tout a new solution for making the world's ports more intelligent and efficient. In fact, the Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator and manufacturer revealed that testing of the solution dubbed a "5G Edge-Cloud Smart Port Solution" is already ready for commercial use and undergoing several pilot tests in China. The solution works in those pilots by enhancing automation of data exchange between shipping containers, transportation equipment, instruments, and personnel. Thousands of cameras are also used to allow employees to inspect operations, while still being able to connect via their own mobile terminals.
While most of that activity was already underway prior to the new solutions, the introduction of the 5G Edge-Cloud pilot solved several problems with prior network iterations. Mostly, those came down to the overall efficiency of the network, which had previously relied on relays and computing performed via central hubs. Because the ports in question tend to be so large, one of the primary problems was lag and stalling in video feeds used to coordinate everything. By taking an edge-computing approach the companies were effectively able to move where computing takes place on the network. Moving the computation and data stream management to the cloud – and thus, off the main network – that problem has shown to be solvable with the new pilot program. The third-party applications and IoT solutions allow for a completely connected wireless network, while also allowing comprehensive awareness between port transport elements. It also allows automatic scheduling of the data flow, making it easier for video security, real-time data collection, and disposal, to take place at mobile terminals.
This also isn't the first use of the 5G Edge-Cloud Solution put forward by the partners and that makes a lot of sense since the pilots and other programs are running in China. Seven out of ten of the worlds busiest ports are harbored within the country, causing the region's Ministry of Transport to actively seek solutions for efficiency beginning as early as 2017. This same solution has been used for several demonstration projects since then. Huawei, in particular, as also played a big role in the standardization and creation of smart city technologies that also rely on edge and cloud-based solutions.