What Will 5G Do For Me?
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Health is a Big Driver For 5G Use Cases
The potential of 5G is mind boggling if you really look into it, and I've covered some of that in previous posts.
This weekend, the BBQ conversation deep-dived into this topic and when this article landed in my inbox I thought I'd touch on the topic again today.
In the build up to launch of 5G in the UK, I had heard from one mobile operator that approximately 30% of the traffic on the roads between 9am-5pm in a typical day could be attributed, one way or another, to the National Health Service (NHS).
These vehicles could been logistics and supplies, doctors, nurses and support staff making their way to/from work, patient transport, emergency ambulances, urgent deliveries such as blood and transplants, community nurse visits, and patients making their way to appointments.
Traffic and congestion isn't something you would normally link with health care, but there are some serious implications here.
- Moving sick people around the country is really a last resort, as it has its own set of risks and complications. Ideally the patient should be treated where they are if possible (5G makes this more possible)
- Increased congestion and traffic delays can impact the survival rate of critically ill patients (5G can help better plan traffic)
- As we've seen in the pandemic, as traffic volume declines, so air quality improves. Air Quality is a big, yet almost silent killer.
So how can 5G help?
Reduce the need to travel
5G enabled video communications and sensor technologies will make it easier to care for patients without having to visit them, or for them to attend clinics. For example, recovering heart-attack patients could be given specialised equipment to take home with them. This equipment would include both wearable sensors to measure the patient's vital signs, as well as a video communication device that allows the career and patient to check in with each other in real time.
Elderly or vulnerable citizens could have passive sensors installed in their homes to 'listen' for unusual activity. These could be combinations of battery powered movement and audio sensors that, with the help of Artificial Intelligence in the Cloud, build a picture of what normal sounds like in the home, raising alarms when something unusual happens. In fact, this was a topic in one of my talks.
Right now, these services are being trialled and rolled out using 4G technologies, however, as the popularity grows and the density of patients relying on these services increases, the efficiency and capacity benefits of 5G will be required to continue to make these commercially and technically viable.
Accessing Expert Help Where and When Needed
Remote robotic surgery is one of the hyped use cases that has been touted in the 5G sphere for a while now. It's kind of the poster-child for 5G because it encapsulates the three principle characteristics of 5G; super high bandwidth for real-time streaming of video content, ultra-reliability so the network doesn't glitch out mid-sutuer and low-latency to avoid life threatening delays between action and response.
But this use case goes beyond that. As the article I mentioned earlier describes, lives can be saved if diagnosis can be made before the patient arrives to the hospital. This could be EKG heart information that is processed by AI in the Cloud to identify irregularities of the patient during transfer, or it could be video communications between the paramedic in the ambulance and the specialist surgeon elsewhere on the planet.
This video gives a demonstration of how the bandwidth, reliability and low latency of 5G can deliver in-the-field patient diagnosis that simply can't be done with existing mobile network technologies.
Yes, faster phones, too.
So these 5G uses cases might not be the ones you want to try out first. Don't worry, 5G is already helping increase the speed and performance of mobile phones, and increasing high-speed connectivity options for home, business and industry. More on those another time.
Tell me what you think
What do you think? Share your thoughts with me, and leave a comment below.