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5G technology powers urban safety in Shanghai

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-12-21 10:50
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A drone carrying a package flying over high-rise buildings is seen in this file photo. [Photo/CFP.CN]

SHANGHAI -- As the sky began to clear up, a drone connected to the city's pilot 5G network circled around the Jingtai Building in Hongkou District of Shanghai for a quick screening.

With its built-in infrared scanner, the drone took pictures of the edifice's outer walls to detect any possible leakage or damage. Real-time images were transmitted to the technicians' computers.

The technicians are tasked with decoding the on-screen messages -- dark patches suggest damp interiors. They can tell from the images if the high-rise suffers from water leakage or bulging bricks.

"The information obtained during 'physical examination' of the old buildings can all be transmitted to experts far away from the spot via the 5G network. After consultations with experts, digital modeling of the high-rise and renovation plans are made," said Li Yiqing with China Telecom's Shanghai branch.

The international metropolis of Shanghai is groping for futuristic application scenarios using the 5G technology in fields like urban management.

Since the beginning of this year, the local government has teamed up with the Shanghai branch of China Telecom, one of China's major telecommunications operators, to pilot the intelligent scanning mechanism using state-of-the-art technologies.

Most of the high-rise residential buildings in the district were constructed more than two decades ago. Such complexes need to be regularly screened to avert safety hazards.

"Conventional ways of troubleshooting take time and human labor. Even a skilled worker needs several days to check the building conditions, and it is hard to pinpoint the most pressing faults that need to be fixed," said Xia Liang with the district's urban operations management center.

Whereas, the high-tech combination of unmanned aircraft and 5G network cut the process down to less than two hours.

Real-time monitoring data showed that the 5G network near the Jingtai Building had a downstream rate of about 990 Mbps and an upstream rate of about 100 Mbps. Due to its unique advantages of large bandwidth and short delay, the 5G network opens up a whole new world for urban life, according to Li.

Earlier this year, local authorities and the telecom company identified 21 spots of high-risk hazards in the LanQiao Building.

Detailed evaluation reports and maintenance plans based upon the data have secured a more scientific and efficient renovation for the residential compound.

The scanning technology is expected to be applied in protecting historical sites and architectures through detecting damage or subsidence of buildings as well as identify illegal constructions, according to Xia.

As of October, the municipality had set up more than 30,000 outdoor 5G base stations.

"New infrastructure development, including the 5G network, has transformed the passive troubleshooting into proactive early-warnings, safeguarding urbanites' lives while helping the city realize fine management," Xia said.

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