A Sustainable Ecosystem Framework for 5G Applications & Services

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A Sustainable Ecosystem Framework for 5G Applications & Services


Applications and services are the exciting place where technology advances and envisioned use cases
merge to reveal real world practices and impact. 5G and future networks have galvanized the imagination around a broad landscape of known and possible applications and services like no earlier network generation. But, what was missing was a way to organize and contextualize a sustainable infrastructure that can underlie applications and services across myriad industries. This podcast imparts a structured, flexible, adaptable, and scalable methodology for applications and services that extends end-to-end across ecosystems in urban and non-urban areas. This methodology caters to different levels of local priorities, resources, and technologies.

What is the benefit of this approach to industries, citizens, society? This methodology caters to different levels of local priorities, resources, and technologies. Communities may use the interconnected ecosystem of ecosystems framework to traverse across adjacent ecosystems to respond to planned or unplanned events.

This work is underway in the Applications & Services Working Group of the International Network Generations Roadmap.

View the International Network Generations Roadmap page with Executive Summary, and options for viewing the Applications & Services chapter.


Subject Matter Experts


Narendra Mangra
Co-chair, International Network Generations Roadmap
Co-chair, Applications & Services, Working Group, International Network Generations Roadmap
Principal, GlobeNet, LLC



With Brian Walker of IEEE Future Directions Digital Studio


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Podcast Transcript 


Brian Walker: Narendra, thank you for taking some time to contribute to the IEEE Future Network Podcast series.  You’ve talked about a sustainable ecosystem framework for 5G applications and services. Can you explain what that is and why we need it?

Narendra: Well, applications and services, when you think about it, is a fairly large area, and we needed a way to organize all the different types of applications and services we have. So, for example, we may have cases where we have a drone that may be used to deliver a pizza or may be used in a public safety context for determining situational awareness. So, the same application and services may be used in different ways and may have different requirements for that. That is the reason why we needed a conceptual framework that not only looks at it within the context of an ecosystem, but also among the different ecosystems to make sure that they’re connected, and they’re aligned with each other, as well as that it is also sustainable in that it is long-lasting. It is upgradable and actionable and it’s not something that we’re going to need to rip and replace very frequently, something that’s going to be there for some time.

Brian Walker: Do you see a common framework that can be effective across industries and applications?

Narendra: That’s an excellent question. We’ve thought long and hard about what are the best ways to approach the subject. We wanted something that has a common structure that we can build upon and is easy to understand across the spectrum. One area that we looked at is really more of a supply management framework. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean it from a business aspect as far as business relationship, but more from an information flow. For example, if we’re looking at a continuum of care model for healthcare, we’re looking at a patient-centric information flow and best ways to optimize the supply chain across that ecosystem, and the same applies for an event-driven framework for public safety in a recovery continuum and mobility for multi-modal models for transportation and so on. Initially, we looked at five key ecosystems. That includes healthcare, public safety, electricity, water, and transportation. The new ecosystem that we’re targeting for the second edition [of the International Network Generations Roadmap] includes agriculture and education and entertainment.

Brian Walker: How is this overarching ecosystem of ecosystems approach more beneficial than current systems?

Narendra: That’s an excellent question, because that kind of follows from the framework that we’re using, in that we have the ability to break it down into different pieces, and what I mean by that is, for example, the public safety ecosystem. We can break that down into five different mission areas that include prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery, and within each one of these areas then we can treat this independently, and that gives us a lot of flexibility as far as how do we align that particular ecosystem to make one stage work well with another, as well as looking at how different ecosystems are aligned. So, how does public safety impact healthcare and how does it impact transportation and so on?  We’re looking at also, are there inter-ecosystem interdependencies and touchpoints? And at the end, a community or a local leader can use that, whether it’s a municipality or even at the national level, can look at that and combine all of the different ecosystems at the stage they happen to be at, and that may be different across communities, and to be able to use that to achieve the common objective that they have.

Brian Walker: What are the pros and cons of different deployment approaches?

Narendra: One area that came out of the overall framework was, “How do we apply that? How do we make this practical and still provide an outlook between the 5-to-10-year mark?” We looked at the common method that’s used, it’s a use case classification that you may be family with, that’s enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type communications and ultra-reliable low-latency communications, also known as URLLC, and that is great, because it has a key set of considerations that we should take into account, and they include high data rates, low latency, connection of traffic density, reliability, and so on. But we wanted to look at it from a different angle. We wanted to look at it functionally first. So, we broke that down into the different components of any future network considerations, and that includes the access component, whatever that may happen to be in a future network, and the service delivery. Some people may align or associate that with edge or core networks, for example. We’re looking also from an operations, and a network management, and a customer relationship point of view, and the fourth stage is also looking at it from a network interoperability point of view. So, it may be a cellular interoperability, or it may be cellular to some special-purpose network that we have. This allows us basically to take into account not only the technologies, but also the different constraints that may apply across the board or may be more localized in nature.

Brian Walker: What are the enablers of this approach?

Narendra: The primary enablers we’re looking at-- we’re looking at it from two different aspects. Within the ecosystem there may be certain drivers in place that we need to take into account that’s really more-- that is more aligned with that ecosystem. Key drivers, for example, healthcare, maybe HIPAA constraints or requirements, and we’re looking also from a common ecosystem enabled point of view, and they may differ in the degree of priority they have, but they certain apply across the board, and they include areas such as security, privacy, trust, position determination, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and so on. So, we take that into account for common enablers. We also have a very broad perspective, so we are open to different types of technology, whether it be satellite, terrestrial cellular, wi-fi, or even fixed network. We’re using a combination of all of this, and together we’re looking at it with a broad technology agnostic point of view to assess the different areas.

Brian Walker: How do you anticipate this approach will be a benefit in the event of extreme weather, a future pandemic, or other disruptive event?

Narendra: This framework could actually be used on a broad level and at a localized level. First and foremost, we can look at treating any of the extreme weather or pandemic or any other disruptive event, whether planned or unplanned, within its own respective ecosystem. What that means is, for example, case in point, COVID-19. We can look at it as a healthcare problem because it is. It is first and foremost a healthcare problem. So, we can see, “How can we adjust this, use this model for supply and demand mismatches?” and by using the supply chain construct, it may be information flow to help with increasing the manufacturing capabilities, the need for deployable converted hospitals and really making sure that we have the supply of care available where it is needed. From the demand aspect, we can look at it from the common methods such as social distancing, dissemination of information for preventative measures, and also to help with fitness development, which is also very helpful, to help prevent any areas related to healthcare. Secondly, we can use these this framework to see how does it touch different ecosystems?  So, COVID-19 we know impacts the workforce. We know it impacts the food supply chain and education and transportation, and the list goes on and on. If an event happened to be sustained, then it would create more of a shock to that particular industry that makes up that ecosystem, and that is something that we will also need to take into account for the model, and it does accommodate that need, and third and lastly, the communities may be able to use those combined capabilities that may be different, again, across the different areas just to use it for its full potential to address the common objective for that local area.

Brian Walker: Are non-technical areas such as privacy, trust, and ethics under consideration?

Narendra: Absolutely. This is a key consideration. In fact, we started working in these areas in the first edition, and we will build on them for the second edition as well. Data governance models, privacy and transparency, they’re essential, really, for developing contextualized data models and basically, to be able to optimize the different ecosystems so that we can continue to build and get value out of them.

Brian Walker: Where can people go to learn more about 5G applications and services?

Narendra: For the first edition, anyone listening can go to the IEEE Future Network International Network Generations Roadmap and they’re found at futurenetworks.ieee.org. You will see the first edition for application and services, as well as the work from other working groups, and there’s also a webinar that was held in January 2020 that is also at the website and under the webinars tab, and you will be able to see all of the different working groups there.

Brian Walker: Thanks, Narenda. In closing, what would be your call to action for anyone listening to this podcast?

Narendra: We would love to have additional volunteers. We take a broad approach, as you can see, and we are looking for different volunteers with backgrounds in technology, ecosystems or different types of enablers that can help move the effort forward. We take an interdisciplinary approach to develop this, and really, what the end goal is. The hope is that we have more volunteers that could help provide diverse opinions, to provide a high-level perspective and projection of how the industry could evolve to highlight any common needs, to identify any of the challenges we have to achieving these needs, and to provide solutions. A diverse skillset is welcome, and aside from application and services, there’s also a number of working groups. In fact, there’s about 15 working groups so far and they address different diverse and challenging areas as well. Volunteers are definitely welcome, and we look forward to seeing more.

Brian Walker: Thank you for listening to this edition of the IEEE Future Networks “Podcasts with the Experts.”  Discover more about the IEEE Future Networks Initiative and inquire about participating in this effort by visiting our web portal at futrenetworks.ieee.org.