Key enablers for fast 5G network based on smart light poles, which will form the digital backbone of future smart cities, are being developed by Nokia Bell Labs. The LuxTurrim5G ecosystem project has developed the 5G smart pole concept where 5G base stations, a variety of different sensors, video cameras, displays and other devices have been integrated to light poles.
This creates a novel platform providing fast, low latency mobile communications and possibilities to exploit huge amount of data to make new digital services for smart cities. The solutions have been piloted already during last two years at Nokia Campus in Espoo, Finland, and now the plans are to expand the piloting to real environment in Kera region of Espoo.
Our society and cities face great challenges to improve safety, energy efficiency, air quality, effectiveness of transportation and quality of living. There is a growing need for a new generation digital service infrastructure for smart cities which enables improved data capacity for citizens and new service and business opportunities for companies.
However, the capacity of mobile networks will be far too insufficient already in a few years due to the increased number of users and new digital services built and planned. This creates a serious bottleneck and threatens realization of the important smart city digital services which will be vital only if they are connected and distributed through an effective and reliable telecommunications network.
This problem can be solved only by taking into use small cell radio frequency (RF) technologies and higher frequencies. This needs dense networks of antennas setting new requirements for the network infrastructure.
LuxTurrim5G offers a solution to this critical problem. Small cell radio network technology and higher frequencies are a prerequisite for significant improvement in data transmission capacity. The smart light poles with integrated small 5G base stations and sensors developed in the project enable implementation of a smart pole infrastructure, such as the current street lighting network, which provides high data transfer capacity, a lot of new data available and a variety of new smart city services available for all users.
Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks business group and Finland Country Senior Officer at Nokia, said: “The communications network based on 5G smart light pole concept creates a platform for a variety of smart city digital services, bringing new business opportunities to many actors.
“The pilot environment created by the LuxTurrim5G ecosystem makes it possible to test them in practice already now, which will significantly speed up the development of the 5G smart city.”
The highly multidisciplinary joint development of ten companies and three research institutes co-funded by the companies and Business Finland has quickly advanced from research to practice. The project has developed and piloted both innovative smart pole structures, 5G radio network technology, new antenna materials, various sensor solutions as well as several new service and business concepts.
Intensive ecosystem collaboration has been done by Nokia Bell Labs, Sitowise, Exel Composites, Premix, Lammin Windows and Doors, Vaisala, Teleste, Indagon, Ensto, Rumble Tools, VTT, University of Tampere, Aalto University and Spinverse as the project coordinator. At the first two-year project period, at the end of May, the LuxTurrim5G consortium organized an Impact Day, a show-case event, at Nokia Campus, presenting further plans and key results in the form of numerous practical demos to around 200 invited guests.
Nokia Bell Labs has developed a 5G radio concept based on millimeter technology integrated to the smart poles, and implemented a 5G smart pole test network at Nokia Campus, Espoo, where new digital city services have been piloted with other partners. Since the light poles are usually owned by the city, the needs of the 5G poles must be taken into account in the city infrastructure planning.
Through its expertise in planning and construction processes in urban environments, Sitowise has responded to this and developed new 3D design tools for smart city planning. Piloting of new services has been done by Vaisala (weather and air quality), Teleste (video surveillance solutions, information displays), Indagon (positioning, autonomous traffic), Ensto (lighting) and Rumble Tools (drone services).
Erik Sucksdorff, Head of Business Development for Vaisala’s Weather and Environment business area, said: “The LuxTurrim5G ecosystem has made it possible for Vaisala to collaborate with a broad innovation network to develop and integrate measurement technologies needed for smart cities to create sustainable, safe and efficient environments for citizens and businesses.
“The smart 5G light poles offer an efficient way to roll out dense observation networks to monitor air quality, forecast urban weather and maintain street networks. In the future, autonomous vehicles and drones will require even more environmental information to navigate safely around urban environments.”
Teleste has developed intelligent information displays and a safe bus stop (Connected Zone) and studied new video analytics solutions. The results achieved will increase the intelligence and interactivity of the digital systems of public transport and enable a completely new real-time public transport safety service.
Regarding video surveillance, one key achievement is the anonymization solution which can be used to blur the cars and people in video recordings to guarantee privacy. Teleste will continue to develop new digital solutions to increase the safety of urban environments and flexible public transport.
Esa Harju, Senior Vice President Video Security and Information, Teleste, added: “LuxTurrim5G provides a strong and versatile platform for developing a variety of 5G concepts for urban safety and smart public transport. The LuxTurrim5G work done and the planned research work for the follow-up project will significantly improve Teleste’s offering and promote the introduction of new commercial 5G solutions.”
Special know-how on materials and components have been brought and developed by Exel Composites (composite structures, smart pole concept), Premix (antenna materials) and Lammin Windows (special windows, RF transmittance of materials). VTT, Aalto University and University of Tampere, together with companies, have developed the materials and structures required by smart poles, 5G radio technology and network architecture and new business models.
The project has also analyzed what are the best practices to build the network, what cost items there are in planning, building and managing the network, who are the key players and how to share the cost of the network.
Based on the good results and intensive co-creation mode, the LuxTurrim5G ecosystem is now expanding. Significant joint projects have already been planned including 28 companies in active project collaboration for the next two years.
The next step is to expand the LuxTurrim5G pilot environment around Nokia Campus and build basis for commercializing the concept. The goal is to implement these new solutions in practice soon both in Espoo and other cities in Finland.
Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor at City of Espoo, explained: “The LuxTurrim5G project has created real smart city elements that will enable Espoo to develop the modern Kera district next to the Nokia Campus. Espoo is already committed to continuing the 5G smart pole network to the Kera railway station, which allows for example the self-driving bus service.”
Project Manager Pekka Wainio from Nokia Bell Labs, said: “The follow-up plans include strong business development, including new business models and ways to exploit the large amounts of data to create new business. Another interesting topic is to study the feasibility of so called Neutral Host Operator Model in practice.”
Naturally, the development is not made only for Finland. There is big a global need on the solutions being developed in the LuxTurrim5G ecosystem, and our companies are aiming to respond the needs and developing new products and services for the global market.
The LuxTurrim5G pilot environment in Espoo that is still further developing is a very important springboard for this enabling the Finnish companies take a good grip on the huge business opportunities of 5G and smart cities.