Video surveillance and analytics is the first item in Nokia's suggested uses of 5G. (Chart at left and below.) I've come to the same conclusion, although surveillance usually isn't talked about and sometimes is actually classified.
Many are considering putting Edge servers with processing, AI, and data stores in telco networks not far from the towers. (MEC) That reduces latency from 25-50 ms to ~15 ms. That yields faster real-time processing and saves the cost of transmitting huge amounts of data to the cloud.
I've made a point of saying "Massive video surveillance," thinking Times Square on New Year's Eve as something beyond the state of the art that might need 5G. Researching this story, I discovered how much is and can be done without the 5G performance. Now, I wonder if 5G/Edge Networks will be needed.
For the millions of people living in Detroit and Chicago, face surveillance may be an imminent reality. Detroit's million-dollar system affords police the ability to scan live video from cameras located at businesses, health clinics, schools, and apartment buildings. Chicago police insist that they do not use face surveillance, but the city nonetheless has paid to acquire and maintain the capability for years.
According to one source, China already has hundreds of millions of active cameras, many doing facial recognition and feeding terabytes to information to databases.
Amazon could use a system like that for Alexa voice recognition. A city could monitor traffic. AR/VR streams make many people nauseous if latency is not under 20 ms. All are possible, but few seem likely to yield much revenue for several years.
I asked many, "Who will buy your Edge offering?"
"Who needs that kind of performance?" Some people answered, "We're not sure, which is why we are moving slowly." But I also heard, "We're signing contracts already but I'm not allowed to talk about them." That could be Netflix or YouTube wanting better video performance and currently in stealth mode.but both run fine with paying the telcos for faster access.
The technical descriptions seemed perfect for an agency tracking 100's of thousands of people in real time. Times Square on New Year's Eve of the inauguration of a popular President, perhaps. (Ordinary video surveillance works well from the primary cloud. It is the really big events - stadium size and bigger - that could gain from an Edge.
Nokia is in constant communication with people building networks and knows what's coming.
"LTE can provide sufficient performance to meet these demands in the short term. ... Enterprises also need 5G if they want to combine 4K cameras with video analytics to support new use cases such as precise object recognition or detecting product defects on assembly lines."
I've discussed this with several in the industry. Some have reacted with horror. "Think about what the Chinese will do." I know the Chinese network plan. Starting in 2020, China will deploy an Edge network bringing "90% of the country within 25 ms," per Minister Miao Wei. That's well over a billion people. It's easy to guess one of the applications.
The same is happening in the West. You can't watch detective stories from British TV without realizing London is saturated. New York is testing a system to catch subway fare evaders. The Immigration enforcers are grabbing every database they can find, including every driver's license photo.
Everyone wants to prevent another bomb in Times Square. Changing trains one day, I realized I was going through a subway tunnel that had been bombed a week before. It's frightening.
We have very few limits on what the cops can do in surveillance and are unlikely to get many. I recently did a radio show where the speakers demanded privacy protection. We are a minority; most people want to give the cops every tool they want.
The technology is just becoming ready. Deutsche Telekom is offering a (limited) service and Nicki Palmer at Verizon has promised to deploy in 2019. Another incumbent is responding to proposal requests.
The only thing like to hold back surveillance from telco Edge servers is that companies - including the cops - may choose to do it without the telco.
I know companies offering that product, including Nokia and Huawei.