Adoption of edge computing and applications will ultimately be determined by how well these technologies mesh with business goals and will depend on whether an organization has the resources to effectively implement, manage and monetize them. Several industries are particularly well poised to benefit from edge computing:
1. Smart cities. Edge computing can apply broadly in a smart community or city. As the number of sensors and sources grow (citizens, traffic systems, health-care systems, utilities and security programs), storing and analyzing data in a central location becomes less feasible. Edge computing also reduces latency delays in community services where action must be quick, such as in medical emergencies, law enforcement, traffic patterns and public transportation. It also allows for geographic precision, so information relevant to a particular street, block or suburb can be shared instantaneously with users in that area. The applications and technology will ultimately determine whether the edge extends from traffic sensors and streetlights to pumps, turbines and other traditionally unconnected utility devices. How could smart-city edge networks collect and distribute information in the event of natural disasters? How could supply-chain impacts for resources such as water and gasoline be communicated and mitigated using smart-city and edge technologies?
2. Smart homes. A number of data center OEMs claim that every home in the U.S. will soon become its own data center, and that claim is coming closer to reality. Edge computing, however, links smart-home systems back to the core production center rather than creating an independent data center as data moves toward the edge. The role of “batch and send” versus real-time connected devices in smart homes continues to discussed and developed.
3. Automated vehicles, drones and remotely operated machinery. Perhaps the most well-known example of edge technology, a self-driving car will require an estimated 200 or more CPUs and is a “data center on wheels” according to Peter Levine of Andreessen Horowitz. Self-driving cars can process live video and stream photos to make immediate decisions based on data input. They highlight the need to share collaborative information through a smart transportation network. This concept can extend to drones for agriculture, mining, oil and gas and other
industries that must react in real time to the data they collect.
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