SEATTLE, February 2, 2021 – The 5G Open Innovation Lab (5G OI Lab), a global applied innovation ecosystem of developers, corporate enterprises, academia and government institutions, today announced the launch of its first application development field lab for the agricultural industry with dedicated access to a 5G-capable, CBRS LTE-based network and edge computing platform fueled by technology provided by the partners of the 5G OI Lab. The Food Resiliency Project, an economic development initiative funded by a grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), establishes a virtual and physical space for Snohomish County to bring together food growers, and distributors with technology companies to collaboratively develop new capabilities that will improve the resiliency of Snohomish County’s agriculture sector and minimize future food service disruptions for consumers and regional agribusiness.
Said Jim Brisimitzis, General Partner of the 5G Open Innovation Lab, “Every modern industry benefits from data and analytics. Agricultural sites typically lack the high-speed Internet access necessary for connecting devices and generating the data growers and industry suppliers need to make real-time decisions for optimal impact. With the support of Snohomish County and our partners, we’ve proudly built an application development field lab with two dedicated sites through which our ecosystem members, partners, academia, and industry can collaborate to experiment, test, and learn. The outcome is the development of commercial use cases by way of research and innovation that agricultural vendors like John Deere and Cargill, for example, can use today.”
“Agriculture has always been a key sector in Snohomish County. This last year has taught us how vital it is it to ensure we have a steady, local supply of food,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Our partnership with 5G Open Innovation Lab can help safeguard our agriculture industry by providing farmers the tools they need for success, while securing fresh food for our community. We will continue to support innovation to strengthen and diversify our economy.”
The foundation of the field lab is a dynamic testing platform with dedicated access to a 5G-capable, CBRS LTE private network through co-development access points. The two agriculture sites operating in Snohomish County are: Swans Trail Farms, a retail farm and event venue featuring apple orchards, strawberry fields, and a pumpkin patch; and Andrew’s Hay, Inc., a commercial grower and supplier of premium feed for horses, cattle, livestock and seed crops. Each site will connect to an edge computing environment allowing developers to tap into cloud computing capabilities essential for latency-sensitive and compute-intensive applications. IoT applications include soil sensors measuring temperature, volumetric water content, oxygen levels and photosynthetic radiation, as well as supply chain and logistics tracking of food from farm-to-table to ensure safety and security.
The dynamic testing environment enables edge computing by using Dell servers based on Intel Xeon processors, VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform operating system for 5G applications and the Intel Smart Edge multi-access edge computing platform. Wireless access is provided by T-Mobile with live radios connected to T-Mobile’s broadband network for Internet backhaul and access to Microsoft’s Azure hyperscale cloud infrastructure, and the Microsoft 5G-capable network core. Expeto, an alum of the 5G Open Innovation Lab program, was selected to provide the wireless network core orchestration and end device (SIM) management platform. Two of the initial partners leveraging the field lab to drive learnings and solution development with the installation of IoT sensors and advanced research are Washington State University and innova8.ag, another alum of the 5G Lab’s program.
“As the leading network silicon provider we are passionately committed to ushering in the full potential of 5G and edge by supporting a range of industries, including ones that power our societal fabric like agriculture,” said Caroline Chan, Vice President, Data Center Group and General Manager, Network Business Incubator Division, Intel. “This first-of-its-kind field lab is showcasing the benefits of 5G-to-farm-to-table, and is a strong example of how industry collaboration can drive innovations that address both business and human challenges.”
“The Food Resiliency Project is an example of what can be accomplished using 5G technology, virtualized, cloud-native solutions, and the ecosystem of partners created by the 5G Open Innovation Lab,” said Sue Boyd, Microsoft Assistant General Counsel and 5G OI Lab board member. “The combined solution that includes a Microsoft 5G-capable network core, has been deployed in record time, and represents an invaluable collaboration between private and public domains that benefits the farmers, consumers and the environment.”
“T-Mobile is America’s 5G leader and we’re building a network to serve all Americans, including rural farmers, giving them the tools they need to transform their businesses – for farmers that means producing more food using fewer resources,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “We can’t wait to see the 5G innovation that occurs as we work together to build the next big thing in agritech.”
“VMware is a proud founding partner of the 5G Open Innovation Lab. We, along with fellow partners, are driven to help communication service providers fully grasp the 5G opportunity so they can bring a new generation of services and applications to the world,” said Stephen Spellicy, vice president of product marketing and solutions, Telco and Edge Cloud business, VMware. “With our telco cloud platform and industry expertise, we can support projects like the Food Resiliency Project to bring more agility, scalability and efficiency to enhance their day-to-day operations, food delivery and safety for the agriculture industry.”
The Amdocs next-generation OSS and service management platform will make automating and managing the multi-vendor environment more efficient. With Amdocs network policy and converged charging systems, farmers will be able to investigate the monetization elements and business models for planned commercial use cases. F5 will provide security software for the private networks and the applications running on them.
Said Angela Logothetis, CTO Amdocs Open Network, “Effective commercialization of innovative services based on 5G requires automation systems to manage the end-to-end service lifecycle that covers design, deployment, orchestration and monetization across a hybrid and multi-vendor network. We are excited to have Amdocs OSS and BSS solutions be part of this agricultural field lab to support the planned use cases and demonstrate the practical aspects that need to be considered in launching and supporting new services.”
“Because farming is a critical business which may lack easy access to certain technology advances due to terrain and geography, F5 is collaborating with other leading technology companies to help source and co-develop local networks to address access challenges and, most urgently in this case, improve digital and physical supply chains to more efficiently get food on tables,” said James Feger, VP and GM for Service Provider for F5. “The field lab we’ve rapidly built together to support smart agriculture use cases—leveraging analytics, IoT, and automation—is also designed to be easily adapted to other industries. Specifically, we are thrilled to offer our expertise in securing and managing the 5G and IoT network traffic and applicable applications to provide a more robust and secure edge infrastructure for the project to ensure a resilient and robust food supply chain.”
The Lab selected the Nokia AirScale Radio for ultra-low latency and the ability to adapt to evolving architectures with a future-proof solution for 5G networks. A simple unpack and deploy model was used to enable farmers to utilize the network to homeschool young children, automate planning and harvesting, and measure soil conditions. Said Joydeep Hazra, Nokia Radio Product Manager, “We are proud to be working with our partner T-Mobile and other technology leaders on the Food Resiliency Project which opens up doors to public-private partnerships and provides an open ground to all industry players to collaborate and accelerate innovation for the greater good.”
The Expeto Nextworking™ platform enables network managers to set and manage application policies over a unified framework across private and public mobile networks and control all core network functions within one interface. Expeto will be responsible for the ongoing management over the coming year. The Expeto platform delivers what smart farming applications and field devices need: highly reliable, outdoor wireless networking with the low latency, full end-to-end data path control and security. Within the Nextworking™ platform, farmers can be confident they can both scale their operations and protect their wireless network data across both public and private networks. Lab participants and farmers will be able to manage these hybrid networks as easily as traditional Wi-Fi but with all the security and robustness of a stand-alone private LTE solution.
“The field lab is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate practical applications which can make a meaningful difference in the overall efficiency and yield of these farms,” said Michael Anderson, CEO of Expeto. “According to the United Nations, food production will have to double in the very near future in order to meet growing population demand. We will have to leverage innovations, like we see in the field lab, to help farmers, and for that matter, participants from all verticals, to scale existing supply chains to support our growing population.”
The Lab selected Seattle-based Ballast Networks to design, manage and deploy the hardware, switching infrastructure and networking gear at both sites. The development environment and access points at both sites are designed to be operational for ten years.
Said Jon Morris, CEO, Ballast Networks, “The pandemic has shined a bright light on the need for greater resiliency in managing our food supply. There are just over 2 million farms in the U.S. and we have seen disruptions in the food supply. With the 5G Open Innovation Lab, we are deploying efficient networks to be more agile in our farming practices. This will pave the way for great innovation in this area.”
innov8.ag is a leading partner of the Food Resiliency Project providing data analytics and artificial intelligence sensors through its partnership with Washington State University. Said Steve Mantle, founder and CEO of innov8.ag, “We enable leading-edge insights for progressive farms like Swans Trail Farm and Andrew’s Hay. We start with foundational insights that bring together environmental, soil, chemical, nutrient, labor, water, and imaging data which enables efficiencies and better outcomes in yield and quality. Growers are equipped to further enable food resiliency, while also having a baseline dataset to leverage the coming wave of equipment automation.”
The 5G Open Innovation Lab is also a founding member of Washington’s Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ), a statewide initiative, sponsored by the City of Bellevue and administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The IPZ is designed to stimulate regional economic growth by providing access to intellectual capital, and to accelerate the development of new technologies, marketable products, company formation, and job creation.
Said Carol Miles, Interim Director, Washington State University’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center (WSU NWREC), “We are excited to be partnering with innovative startups, and tech industry leaders to help growers access data and develop meaningful products that drive informed decisions regarding resources to increase efficiency and output. Our initial work in the 5G field lab will be focused on real-time sensing of in-field weather and soil attributes with remotely sensed crop physiological data products to guide informed irrigation management and precision chemical application decisions with the goal of improving produce quality and yield.”
Said Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown, “Washington’s Innovation Partnership Zones are an example of public-private partnerships that can accelerate development of technologies with tremendous potential across all of our key industry sectors. Commerce is committed to support emerging innovations like 5G which will provide vital connectivity to strengthen businesses and communities through an equitable economic recovery.”
“There are test beds across the United States and around the world, but they tend to be academic in nature. While they serve an important purpose, we wanted to design a dynamic, development platform that facilitates collaborative experimentation for commercially viable use cases. It is a true collaborative public-private environment for startups, with best-of-breed solutions delivering all the capabilities of a real enterprise platform,” said Brisimitzis. “This co-development platform is the first of many we plan to deploy in the future serving other industries. We believe that better connectivity and edge computing are the future and are working with our partners and ecosystem companies to make that vision a reality.”
About Snohomish County
Snohomish County is the third largest and one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Washington. Snohomish County is home to the largest manufacturing facility in the world and is one of the top tourist destinations in the region. From the waves of Puget Sound to the ice fields of Glacier Peak, Snohomish County has diverse ecosystems, while also being home to a thriving agriculture industry and dynamic urban centers. www.snohomishcountywa.gov
About the 5G Open Innovation Lab
The 5G Open Innovation Lab is a global applied innovation ecosystem of developers, corporate enterprises, academia and government institutions working together with early- and later-stage start-ups to fuel the development of new capabilities and market categories that will transform the enterprise and the way we work, live and play. The Lab provides startups at all stages unparalleled access to open platforms, enterprises, and markets needed to create, test, and deploy new use cases and innovations for 5G and 5G-enabled technologies. The 5G Open Innovation Lab is committed to the transformation of networks to intelligent software-defined platforms for enterprise applications and solutions. To learn more about the Lab and its ecosystem of companies, please visit www.5GOILab.com or follow us on Twitter at @5GOILab.
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