Mobile Networks and IoT Security applications – a match made by MEC

collage of security camera and urban video
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest trends in communications today. This makes sense since IoT is a broad term used to describe the connectivity of individual elements in our environment in order to improve the way we live, shop, work, drive, and more.

While IoT addresses numerous aspects of life, in this post we want to focus on the intersection of IoT and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) in aspects of urban security.

Safer cities. Lower investment

Urban life entails personal and environmental security measures. For citizens to be safer, authorities must take security measures. Safe Cities using surveillance cameras throughout the city is one of the most popular security approaches.

The surveillance cameras monitor public areas and continuously send video feeds to a central control location. These cameras are typically connected via fiber or wire. As simple as it may seem, in some cities this connectivity is not feasible. In other cases this cost of laying out fiber for the surveillance network can stack up to 55% of the network cost, according to PWC report, making it a prohibitive barrier to the entire project.

What if we look to wireless mobile networks as an alternative?

As LTE deployments progress mobile networks are able to provide broadband connectivity. In addition, mobile coverage in cities is ubiquitous. Not to mention that mobile operators, with declining ARPU’S, would surely appreciate the steady revenues generated from citywide networks operating numerous cameras. These facts make mobile networks a logical solution for security camera connectivity. However, there are issues:

  1. The surveillance video feeds will ‘gobble up’ all the available upstream bandwidth.
  2. The core network cannot support the immense data traffic volume generated by HD video cameras.

 MEC to the Rescue

This is where Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) comes to the rescue of mobile networks. With MEC, mobile networks benefit from the computing power of a ‘cloudlet’ located inside the radio access network (RAN) in close proximity to the cameras. The video feed analysis and storage is done at the MEC platform. When network congestion levels rise, the MEC platform can proactively control the video bandwidth by lowering the video resolution to reduce congestion.

MEC enables mobile operators to extend their capabilities and reach new commercial domains, such as safe cities.  Safe cities are just one example of the how MEC can help mobile operators seize the IoT opportunity. MEC offers ultra-low-latency, broadband delivery and scalable computing capabilities within the mobile network. We believe that as new IoT applications emerge on the market, MEC will play an increasingly important role in their mobile enablement.