New technology like 5G gives businesses the opportunity to seek new possibilities, however it requires the effort and collaboration of people, organisations and industries to make it happen.
Scotland is now a country where 5G enabled devices – be they sensors, smartphones or computers – exist side-by-side with us. This technology is no longer in the realms of science fiction and 5G is no longer the art of the possible, but an inevitable evolution.
Like all new ideas, early adopters and pioneers take the risks. However, in my business engagement role at The Scotland 5G Centre, I ensure the customer journey is easier for market acceleration. Businesses have access to free technical expert advice, support with producing feasibility studies to proof of concepts with access to a private 5G network to trial product and solution ideas. Uniquely, this bespoke service arms businesses with 5G and advanced connectivity knowledge that de-risks decision making to a competitive advantage.
Turning awareness into action takes time and communication. What I have found is that businesses are now keen to hear how 5G is reducing energy outputs and increasing sustainability to reach net zero targets, which is at the top of everyone’s agenda.
Employers are also understanding that the changing shape of digital skills is creating new jobs. In sectors such as manufacturing or logistics, technologies, such as 5G, are becoming an ally, improving efficiencies, reducing costs and ensuring staff’s tasks are even more productive.
Take the energy sector, Scotland is also uniquely placed with growth in offshore wind, solar and hydro power. 5G-enabled connectivity, can provide real time data accurate predictions of supply and demand, it can also analyse possible faults quickly which previously was highly variable and difficult to predict, reducing outage and downtime for customers.
Research shows, for wind power alone, this could reduce downtime by 32% and maintenance sessions by 25%, representing huge savings in costs but supporting the integration of renewable energy sources.
In the Transport sector, it is clear that existing use cases could provide a blueprint for Scottish Smart cities and the transport networks.
5G is enabling electric vehicles to receive data on energy demand and charging points, supporting the development of more advanced transport systems such as autonomous vehicles. In Scotland, this year we have seen the launch of a self-driving bus on a route between Edinburgh and File over the Forth Road Bridge.
We are now seeing the next level of development called vehicle to everything (V2X) concept using 5G connectivity. These vehicles adapt to traffic light systems to reduce stop and starts and maintain traffic flow, reducing fuel consumption and supporting the transition to low carbon transport systems and a decarbonised economy.
It is easy to see the many entry points for businesses in this new 5G landscape. Digital technology has societal, cultural and economic benefits. It could make Scottish roads in cities safer and more efficient; it can also give cities a critical advantage when considered for future development and investments.
As I said at the outset, business is about people and the development of 5G in Scotland relies on the willingness of organisations to embrace 5G technologies and experiment, innovate and step out of their comfort zone.
I will be hosting a 5G workshop at Michelin Sustainable Innovation Parc, Dundee on March 9th at the Demonstrator Showcase event. I will also be speaking at the Transforming your Business with 5G, Conference on the 17th of April at the Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow.