Many proponents of leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies within the traffic management industry are excited about Edge Computing. The challenge is that as a stand-alone device, it is not the solution. However, it is an important component of an end-to-end robust, secure, network architecture in support of Cooperative Automated Transportation Systems (CATS). In order to unravel this confusion, we need to step back and consider the significance of Edge Computing.
CATS is a system designed for motorized Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) of all types. However, in order to create true equitability, CATS must also include all non-motorized forms of transportation, including micro-mobility devices, bicycles, and most importantly pedestrians. In order to accomplish this, we need to look at the functionality of this system from a complex, robust, real-time, and secure data exchange perspective. We must also address the requirement for standardization and reverse compatibility over an extended period of time.
Considering the relationship of CATS to the internet, the concept of Edge Computing would be comparable to your personal smartphone, tablet, etc. There is network connectivity to various communication paths, including access to computing applications for individual purposes. However, the real value and intelligence of the smartphone lies in the end-to-end next-level computing from the data center of your cellular provider, or the cloud service provider over the secure wide-area wired and wireless network. It is the data exchange that your individual device facilitates that enables all of the various functions you know and enjoy. The IoT or Transportation Edge device functions the same way. Without a fully secure, robust, designed, deployed, operated, maintained networked solution with the purpose-built applications and data systems, the edge device will be challenged to add value similar to your phone being set to airplane mode.
Before we get too far into solving the technical challenges, we need to address the business model. To me, there are three primary business models and all of them have value and will likely be deployed. First, because CATS involves infrastructure-based public safety and mobility, it may not have a financial return for the infrastructure owner/stakeholder. Instead, it will serve the public good, providing a need for public sector design, build, operation, maintenance, and regular tech updates will be one of the business models. Second, because mobility applications are more focused on private sector fleet operators, or vehicle manufactures, a private sector or service provider network model will be the preferred method to deliver CATS. Third, a hybrid approach of public-private partnerships built to a common set of standards will be the most prevalent business model, in the same way, the Internet is delivered over public and private networks today.
So, it is important to keep this in mind when evaluating how and where edge computing will be part of your end-to-end CATS. If you would like to discuss this further, I welcome the opportunity. Please reach out to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org