RICHARDSON, TX and TOKYO, JAPAN -- In a recent proof-
of-concept field trial, Verizon and NEC Corp. used network infrastructure with existing fiber optic cables already laid
in the ground as distributed optical sensors to collect information
on city traffic patterns, road conditions, road capacity, and vehicle
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.
Now, with optical sensor technology developed by NEC, Verizon is able to use non-purpose built
fiber already in the ground to generate similar data. 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.
"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, Senior Vice President of
Technology Planning and Development with 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."
Verizon is uniquely positioned to be able to scale this solution
nationwide. With hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber already in
place and plans to deploy 1,400 miles of additional fiber per month,
the breadth of geography where Verizon can mine for data to assist
municipalities' efforts is substantial.
Technical details about the trial
This was all accomplished through a fiber sensing system that
coexisted with existing Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM)
communication channels on the same fiber with minimal impact to data
communication capacity, making it suitable for deployment even in
traffic congested networks. This marks the first time that a 36.8 Tb/
s data transmission system and distributed optical fiber sensing have
been successfully demonstrated together through an operational
telecom network. Results from this trial were reported jointly at OFC
2019 by Verizon and NEC, and are available here.
This is the first time and longest distance that such sensing data
has been collected through an operational telecom network. AI tools
such as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and Software Vector
Machines were used in order to take advantage of Distributed
Intelligent Traffic Informatics (DITI). Utilizing just a single
integrated interrogator, the distributed multi-parameter sensor
system evaluated various properties of back-scattering light, which
can be used to derive the static strain, dynamic strain, acoustics,
vibrations and temperatures for each fiber segment. This allows users
to identify detected signatures and to translate those back-
scattering signals into actionable information over a wide range of
area previously unattainable by conventional sensors. With this
unique technology provided by NEC, Verizon can use existing
telecom networks, which were not built for sensing purposes, to
generate valuable new data and to automatically analyze various
"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,
executive vice president of NEC.
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