Taking HK businesses to next level with 5G and edge computing

April 25, 2023 08:41
Photo: Reuters

While being one of the earliest adopters of 5G, Hong Kong has only scratched the surface of its transformative potential. Edge computing is the next step in the 5G revolution, promising to enhance the value IoT devices bring to the business, through real-time data analytics.

After 5G commercial services became available in April 2020, local 5G coverage now exceeds 90 percent of the population. Among the use cases documented by the Office of the Communications Authority (OCA) include the deployment of smart hospital systems in CUHK Medical Centre and Tseung Kwan O Hospital, as well as traffic monitoring systems.

5G networks can also enable the deployment of IoT devices for autonomous transportation, personal health monitoring, law enforcement, public services, and even retail. For example, stores and other commercial establishments are hosts to IoT sensors, video cameras, and other devices that generate large amounts of data. The latter, in turn, can be utilised to identify individual customers and deliver hyper-personalised customer experiences and journeys.

A New, More Powerful Way to Analyse In Real Time

Edge computing is an essential part of unlocking the potential of IoT and smart devices. By moving the processing data from the cloud and into the edge, it eliminates any delay or lag between the moment when data is sent out and when actionable insights are received in return.

This means decisions are made almost instantly based on up-to-date information that has been processed almost instantly. As a result, both automated systems and non-automated decision-makers can make more accurate decisions in less time.

The combination of edge computing, IoT devices, and 5G networks can result in increased efficiency, cost savings, and overall improvements in the quality of services delivered. These technologies can also lead to innovations and revenue-making opportunities through the ability to safely and accurately automate mission-critical decision-making.

Beefing Up Security with SASE

However, the threat to network devices at the edge is on the rise. Cybercriminals and other malicious actors have uncovered new ways to exploit vulnerabilities such as outdated VPNs and remote access systems, underscoring the urgent need to address various security issues.
The rising number of connected devices located at the edge has broadened potential attack avenues for hackers aiming to infiltrate corporate networks. Servers used in this environment tend to lack adequate protection compared with those hosted by enterprise locations, cloud data centres, or colocation facilities; thus making them vulnerable targets due to their valuable assets.
Through SASE architecture, organisations gain comprehensive security across the entire enterprise network, from cloud to edge. This includes secure access control on all devices connected to an organization’s network and unified policy enforcement for both users and applications.

At the same time, edge computing enables data to be kept locally for decision-making in real-time. By limiting the distance travelled by data, the security risk associated with moving it to the cloud or another data centre is reduced. There is also a smaller window in which anything can be disrupted or corrupted since the data does not have to travel from the edge and into a central data cloud.

Optimising Resources and Costs

Edge computing generates savings for businesses in multiple ways. Reducing cloud capacity requirements is one example. In a system where a central cloud is used in tandem with edge computing resources, most of the data gathered from IoT devices remains within the edge layer for processing. Only a small amount is transmitted to the cloud, such as summaries of all the data gathered or decision-making that is beyond the AI and ML models of the IoT networks.

Less cloud capacity utilisation also means a reduction in other associated costs. Examples include hardware, physical space occupied by the hardware, and energy consumption of both the hardware and the physical infrastructure housing the hardware.

Leveraging Edge Computing to Anticipate the Future

As one of the earliest to embrace 5G, Hong Kong has positioned itself to be at the forefront of the digital revolutions of IoT and edge computing. Its unique position of strength will allow the financial hub to dramatically transform public services and serve as an example to follow for others in the region.

The reduced latency of 5G and the edge make them a good fit, however, organisations must also determine how the edge fits into their objectives to create business value. In terms of IoT environments, bringing computing as close to the source of data as possible provides impetus to empower real-time, actionable insights to be extracted from devices, while empowering continued digital transformation.

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Managing Director, North Asia at Rackspace Technology