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Verizon and NEC Turn Fiber Into A New Information Superhighway

By Juhi Fadia October 09, 2019

Bridging the built and digital worlds using sensors and connected systems is driving us towards safer, cleaner and more livable cities. This includes the use of IoT solutions to help monitor, manage and streamline vehicular traffic in the most populated cities, from New York to LA, Boston to Chicago where the number of cars is increasing at a steady pace.

While we continue to wait for the promised world of autonomous cars and “operating systems” on the city streets of the future, two companies have partnered to create solutions that can work today to measure volume, detect traffic patterns, and determine the appropriate times to maintain and repair heavily traveled roads.

With the addition of simple software to fiber Verizon already has in the ground, a recent trial was able to utilize fiber to collect intelligent traffic monitoring information including the measurement of vehicle density, direction, speed, acceleration, deceleration and more.

Historically, companies have had to lay purpose-built fiber very shallow in the ground with fiber grating at pre-determined intervals to gather and synthesize this type of information. Now, with optical sensor technology developed by NEC, Verizon can use non-purpose-built fiber already in the ground to generate similar data. This has major implications for smart street capabilities.

“This test marks an important milestone for technology that could provide a huge leap forward for those building smart cities and those tasked to manage them,” said Adam Koeppe, SVP, Technology Planning and Development, Verizon. “Instead of ripping up tarmac to place road and traffic-sensing technology, cities will be able to simply piggyback Verizon’s existing fiber optic network.”

The trial used new optical sensor technology developed by NEC with software underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI) for intelligent traffic monitoring including the measurement of vehicle density, direction, speed, acceleration, deceleration, and more.

“Historically, companies have had to lay purpose-built fiber very shallow in the ground with fiber grating at pre-determined intervals to gather and synthesize this type of information,” the companies said in their announcement. “This new technology could lead to or improve other solutions that support public functions such as helping first responders detect and respond to gun shots and enhancing municipalities’ ability to more quickly and efficiently identify earlier deterioration of bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure.”

“NEC has a strong history of leadership in the area of optical fiber technology. The results obtained from this joint research program with Verizon are a great advancement for smart city business opportunities, especially for safer city solutions such as the conservation of roads and the utilization of traffic information. We are confident that these cutting-edge solutions will provide meaningful new value for optical fiber networks,” said Atsuo Kawamura, EVP, NEC.


Juhi Fadia is an engineer, analyst, researcher and writer covering advanced and emerging technologies.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Correspondent

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