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Leveraging 5G at DB NETZ

5G and subsequent generations of connectivity, compared to the current network technologies such as LTE or WIFI, promise higher bit rates, higher terminal densities per radio cell, lower latencies, longer battery life, and better interoperability with other wireless network technologies. With these outstanding features, 5G bears the potential to become an essential enabling technology for digitization and boost other digital trends such as IoT, human immersion or location technologies.

5G and associated systems such as Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) also offers numerous opportunities for DB Netz, which has placed ‘digitalization’ at the epicenter of its business strategy. DB Netz aims to adopt the ‘stand of the art’ technologies and digital solutions to keep up with the digital trends and its ever-increasing need to simultaneously process large amounts of data for its digitalized infrastructure. That said, 5G stands out as the key enabler in the achievement of this objective. In an attempt to make the most of the chances and opportunities associated with the deployment of 5G, the following use-cases are being studied with the involvement of, or in coordination with, DB Netz:

Vehicle Diagnostics via Camera Bridges

Navigation safety and security is of utmost importance to DB Netz. Solutions which boost the safety and security without interrupting the flow and motion on the railway would create a considerable added value for DB Netz. In that regard, one use-case that would make this real is to equip the railway with camera bridges that conduct real-time diagnostics on trains as they go by. This requires, amongst others, transmission of large amount of data, simultaneous data processing and low latency. Here, 5G manifests itself as the key enabler. It enables camera bridges being deployed on the railway to conduct diagnostics on a given train and identify anomalies, irregularities or existing damages in a timely manner. Thanks to the distinctive features of 5G, necessary amount of data will be retrieved from trains and transmitted to the responsible units in a timely and systematic fashion without disrupting the continuity of their service.

Predictive Maintenance with Augmented Reality

High bandwidth and very low latency that come with 5G also enable the conduction of predictive maintenance on or around trains by means of augmented reality. Being accurately informed by large numbers of sensors, machines and robots placed on trains and/or surrounding infrastructure, a maintenance technician will be able to observe and analyze the performance of trains over time, deduce certain patterns from their analysis and anticipate, through deviations from these patterns, any failure or malfunction before they occur. Besides, fostered by augmented reality, she will be able to virtually penetrate in various sections or components of the train and perform its diagnostics therein. Accomplishing this hinges, by and large, on the low latency at high bit rates which 5G offers.

Surveillance of DB Premises through Drones and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

An AGV connected to a 5G Network overcomes the shortcomings of previous connectivity solutions like Wi-Fi and offers new capabilities and efficiencies. DB Netz can secure its premises stretched and distributed over a large area, reliably track the whereabouts of trains using 5G connected AGVs and even detect and forestall occurrences on the railway that might jeopardize life and limb. 5G enables the smooth and hassle-free operation of drones, AGVs or autonomous micro-vehicles in alignment with navigation algorithms, LiDAR sensors, vision technology etc. It is, in this regard, the 5G technology that can provide the reliability, bandwidth, coverage and security required to safely operate drones, AGVs or autonomous micro-vehicles.

All these and further use-cases would help DB Netz understand the deployment of 5G within its environment in line with its business strategy and in ways that fulfill its safety and security requirements. Chances, opportunities and risks associated with the deployment of 5G in various scenarios can be identified and evaluated within these use-cases, thus paving the way for well-informed strategies and optimal solutions.

Source: Digital.Trend.Radar @ DB Konzern
Author: Yasir Gökçe LL.M., MPA, Ph.D.(c)
Senior Experte | Informationssicherheit | Governance, Risk und Audit – I.NVI 61
DB Netz AG

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