How to redefine data collection using 5G

With 5G and IoT set to generate an estimated 1 billion terabytes of data by 2025, how can companies practice data collection effectively?

5G will enable the use of technology that has not yet been seen in domestic and business spheres. Higher speeds and lower latency will mean that more reliable and varied data can be collected from various points across a supply chain, anything from ehealth monitors to connect cars. The Internet of Things (IoT), meanwhile, will continue to expand by 5G’s promise of faster and more reliable, real-time data.

The massive increase of the IoT is illustrated in research conducted by IDC, which estimates that 90 zettabytes (1 billion terabytes) of data will be created on IoT devices by 2025. To put that in context 175 zettabytes is currently created by all computing worldwide.

A large portion of this data will come from smart device. 5G will enable huge untapped sources of data to become available. It will also enable appliances to work within a connected matrix, allowing for deeper and richer data to become available.

Damien Stephens, associate vice-president, mobility and IoT, Tata Communications, sees the first and most immediate impact of this ever increasing IoT as impacting the motor industry.

“As 5G connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, I expect it to have the biggest impact on the road – in connected cars and the wider IoT environment that these vehicles are driving in,” he said.

“This impact will be felt by drivers and car manufacturers, as well as retailers, insurers, delivery companies and other businesses looking to capitalise on the new revenue opportunities that connected cars bring.”

Data collected from cars will help manufacturers more accurately understand a car’s performance; delivery companies can use data to find solutions to make their services more logistically efficient, and insurers can build insurance models around drivers’ behaviour.

5G will also enable these companies to do this in real-time if they so wish as information speeds could increase from the fastest current 4G mobile network’s 45Mbps (megabits per second) on average, to a potential 1Gbps (gigabit per second).

Concerns over data collection

There has been a lot of discussion to do with the risks involved in the expansion of the IoT and 5G security protocols. Ideas have been floated from the outlandish claims that China could hack into a person’s fridge to more serious concerns for instance, new sensitive medical data becoming more available with innovation on health monitoring technology.

Stephens sees the wealth of new data provided by smart devices as a risk and benefit for the consumer.

“For items such as a toaster, this may not represent a great deal of risk, however as fitness and medical devices become more and more sophisticated, leveraging more and more personal data about our health and how we lead our lives, the risks to the user grow too.”

Security risks are a valid concern with the 5G network, especially considering its continued use of the older 4G infrastructure.

This will obviously improve when new infrastructure is completed but, in the meantime, backward compatibility requirements for 5G mean it has inherited vulnerabilities from previous networks.

This may be cleared up over time, however, Altaf Shaik, principal researcher at Kaitiaki Labs has said that the accuracy of 5G data could make it even more vulnerable and useful to hackers than it’s 4G predecessor.

Risk and reward: data collection in an age of savvier consumers

With the introduction of regulations on data collection, particularly the GDPR in 2018, customers are becoming more aware of the value of their information and about how it might be used.

The IoT may provide wider and more varied data streams but consumers are becoming wiser to data collection techniques.

Could a new savvy consumer establish a more transactional relationship between themselves and companies that collect their data?

A study by Blis found that 70% of consumers are willing to share their buying habits with Amazon for a discount in their next shopping cart—59% valued their information as a 10-30% discount off the next purchase.

Consumers’ emerging attitude to data, as a leverage for more benefits or discounts, is creating a more transactional and arguably more transparent avenue for companies interested in data collection to tread.

Stephens says: “GDPR has made consumers more aware of their data privacy rights, but all too often, data collection terms and conditions are buried in online registration or warranty forms. So, it’s often now obvious to the user that their appliance or device will collect data on their usage.”

It is possible to anticipate a more collaborative and voluntary data exchange with companies in the future if this trend of awareness and regulation continues, enabling data collection organisations access to greater domestic data in exchange for rewards or benefits for the person offering the data.

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