Ubiwhere will help cities to be one step closer to being truly smart by equipping urban infrastructure (such as lampposts and street cabinets) with innovative technology for the collection and processing of data and the deployment of communications through 5G networks.
The telecommunications environment is a constantly evolving medium, which foresees the massification of innovative technologies leveraged by the 5G mobile network. With the main goal to support cities, mobile network operators, and owners of telecommunications infrastructures in an effective and sustainable transition, Ubiwhere created URBSENSE.
The project was launched by Ubiwhere in January 2019, with the support of the Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation of the Portugal 2020 Programme, and was also awarded by the European Commission’s Seal of Excellence, which highlights it for its motivation to introduce 5G technology in Portugal.
Its main feature is retrofitting, that is, the ability to equip existing urban infrastructure (such as lampposts and street cabinets) with wireless communication features, sensing, computing, data storage, and infrastructure management. Transforming them into platforms for collecting and processing data and making communications available through 5G networks.
Another innovative component of the project is Edge Computing, a technology for extending the centralised architecture of the cloud to the Edge of the network: it shortens the distance between the data processing source (small cell, for example, existing urban furniture) and the receiver (mobile devices, connected vehicles, etc.). This new project optimises general network connection capabilities, making it faster, safer, and more reliable, providing a better experience for the end-user.
This is the principal technology to be explored in the first pilot of the project that will take place later this year in Helsinki. In this pilot, Ubiwhere’s goal is to monitor traffic intelligently, quickly, and safely throughout various points of the city. To this end, traffic monitoring sensors were installed on traffic lanes, as well as video vigilance cameras using computer vision technology in buildings, capable of detecting vehicles (distinguishing them by typology) and people.
With the help of Edge, the data processing will be done in a distributed way that is, instead of sending the streaming video to a central server, the system processes the information on the various nodes of the network, installed in lampposts distributed throughout the city. In addition to speed, the technology will provide a lower cost of telecommunications for the city and ensure greater privacy and security for people who circulate in the monitored points (since all processing is carried out locally, with no content coming from the video streams).
During the first quarter of 2021, Ubiwhere intends to implement the platform in two more cities – Barcelona and Aveiro, with a focus of once again boosting the European 5G telecommunications market, and more than that, to make cities more capable of responding quickly and effectively to the emerging needs of their citizens, always with sustainability in mind.