Everything appears to be connected, but can it all seamlessly work together?

How digital twins, location intelligence and contextual awareness have the potential to fulfill the promise of the fourth industrial revolution—and redefine the meaning of “connected.”

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From retail and manufacturing to healthcare and transportation, the world is generating more data through connected machines, sensors, devices, networks and artificial intelligence. The ability for global enterprises and governments to harness and contextualize that data to make smarter, faster decisions will enable the intelligent business to compete in the truly connected and collaborative future.

We hear the terms smart, intelligent and responsive applied to a broad range of products—from phones and appliances to vehicles and robots—but few have an understanding of the physical and non-physical (or virtual) properties that enable them to create a fully connected space where everything in and around it can work together. To realize such an environment, particularly as people and businesses expect their environments to be increasingly connected digital spaces, location awareness and context will be essential, all while protecting privacy.

Whether we realize it or not, we all depend on location awareness and context in every action we take, both big and small, every day.

Awareness and context help us not only remember where specific items have been placed but also why collectively they are necessary in helping us complete a task or achieve a goal. In fact, there is little we can successfully accomplish without having a deep, contextual understanding of where we are at any given time, and our relationship to what is around us.

Without a doubt, technology has expanded our ability to find things. Take GPS, for example. Through extensive digital mapping and location awareness, we can pinpoint the location of places, people and things. Now apply those same principles to a specific ecosystem—a warehouse, hospital, construction site or an entire city. What if we had the ability to know where all items of value are located within a space in real time? Could businesses build a smarter, safer and more efficient enterprise?

Verizon is leveraging contextual awareness to solve problems for enterprises and consumers alike. Consider these statistics:

  • Worldwide cost of inventory distortion (including shrinkage, stockouts, and overstock) is an estimated $1.1 trillion
  • The average U.S. retail operation has an inventory accuracy of only 63%
  • An industrial worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds
  • Hospitals will purchase 10% to 20% more portable equipment than actually required, so that staff may find it when needed
  • 50% of serious collisions happen in intersections and some 20% are fatal

The next evolution in situational awareness technology can help solve these and many other operational inefficiencies and safety issues. It’s called Digital Space Orchestration.

Digital Space Orchestration elevates information from a static representation of a space to a 3D digital twin that accurately represents the physical space, including everything in and around it changes within it. The digital twin concept is not new, however. NASA uses digital twins to duplicate systems in space for the purpose of simulating and assessing conditions on board a spacecraft. Digital Space Orchestration evolves the digital twin model to allow global enterprises to develop more insight into their factories and systems, by supplying a central space management system, with robust connectivity to support it.

While software and machines can sometimes answer the question of “where,” they cannot achieve higher levels of spatial context without the tools needed to derive and act on the most meaningful insights from that data. These machines are also often unable to communicate with one another, exchange information and create a shared frame of reference.

So, imagine when software, sensors, and machines do have the ability to function with an integrated, next generation spatial awareness; when they are able to contextualize their surroundings and understand how to interact with and navigate the world in fine detail; when they are truly connected, and able to share understanding seamlessly, and in near-real time:

  • Manufactured products could be moved and tracked across the entire supply chain (from sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, storage and delivery… across planes, trucks, forklifts and more), from origin to warehouse to consumer, while also keeping workplaces and employees protected.

  • Smart buildings could use this new intelligence to optimize flow, keep occupants safe, increase the energy efficiency of HVAC systems, optimize people density and implement 3D fencing.

  • Large public gatherings such as concerts, rallies and festivals would benefit from in-depth insight into high-value assets, near real-time traffic flow, and improved safety and security responses.

  • From a consumer perspective, businesses would be able to share insights and changes that impact their customers proactively and in real-time, such as store closures, product shortages and more.

  • Local governments could map all of a city’s infrastructure and how it works together, planning for optimal traffic flow, emergency routes, and how changes in the environmental landscape could affect nearby roads, buildings, and pedestrian routes.

IDC predicts that by 2030, 30% of the world’s largest companies will use data from digital twins to improve innovation, success rates and productivity, achieving gains of up to 25%.

As a leader in telecommunications, Verizon has evolved to meet the demands of an increasingly digitally connected world and is committed to equipping customers with the necessary tools for the 5G future. Verizon understands the importance of contextually aware machines and software, and is developing a Digital Space Orchestration solution that will help bridge the communication gap that exists today, and in a manner that takes privacy and security considerations into account.

Digital Space Orchestration will help break down information silos, expand situational awareness with data, model workplace operation in real time, and most importantly, help fulfill the promise of the 4th industrial revolution. With the potential of Digital Space Orchestration to power a new era in automation, machine learning and location technology, Verizon will help both humans and machines better understand and engage with their surroundings, building a smarter world.

This is part one of a three-part series

Learn more about Verizon’s New Business Incubation: https://www.verizon.com/about/new-business-incubation

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