What’s clear is that edge solutions can address use cases as diverse as the many missions of the U.S. federal government.
Safety and connected workers. AI and computer vision can enhance workers’ performance when deployed via edge solutions. For example, consider how edge solutions can be used to combat forest fires more safely and effectively by tracking resources and teams in remote locations, allowing integration with existing firefighting resources, and offering recommendations.
FEMA has already used edge computing for disaster response. For example, the agency “can set up a portable tactical network that is satellite-based, and can use it to collect visual data from drones before they send human rescue attempts forward.”
Warehouse and industrial settings. Agencies can leverage edge solutions to improve efficiency, replacing human eyes-on-scene with machine-driven capabilities.
For example, how does the U.S. Postal Service identify packages in their wide network? In 2020, USPS handled roughly 7.3 billion shipments. The agency cannot efficiently scan and identify this volume of shipments from one location; the distributed nature of the postal network requires a different approach.
For the past two years, the USPS has worked on the Edge Computing Infrastructure Program, or ECIP, implementing edge compute capabilities in key distribution centers around the country. This GPU-based compute provides computer vision capabilities at the edge for reviewing packages. The result is an immediate ability to identify packages and take action.
Healthcare and telemedicine. Imagine, for example, a dynamic, high-volume medical center, where staff is tasked to keep track of patients and critical equipment and supplies. In such an ever-changing medical environment, edge solutions could help to optimize scheduling or to pre-position equipment where it's needed most.
Edge also supports medical robotics. Accenture recently leveraged edge solutions to prototype robot-assisted surgery. In this use case, technology at the edge coordinates with the cloud to determine which controls are deployed on the robot, what data is used, and what information is ultimately transmitted back to the cloud.
Edge solutions also are seeing increased usage in telemedicine. Home medical devices can track patient progress and report back to medical practitioners, easing the travel burden for patients and alleviating volume at busy medical facilities.
Field inspections. Agricultural inspections, environmental oversight, infrastructure evaluations – all could be augmented using intelligent edge solutions. These tasks require flexible, mobile IT capabilities since they often happen in remote locations or are spread out geographically.