Jalak Jobanputra is founder of FuturePerfect Ventures.
“Edge computing” has been heralded as a way to increase access to real-time information and to analyze that information more efficiently. But in this moment of public health crisis, we should recognize a potentially significant opportunity that these technologies offer beyond efficiency: the ability of edge computing to weather massive disruption.
To see why, it’s worth remembering what edge computing involves. These technologies move computer workloads to “the edge” of networks, shifting the collection, processing, and storage of data from central locations (like servers or the cloud) to individual devices such as cell phones.
This is significant because of the massive increase of computing power seen in devices that live away from the center of networks. In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore famously observed that computer processing doubles every two years, while the cost of that processing power halves in the same time period. The effects of Moore’s Law mean our smartphones now have more processing capability than NASA’s computers when they sent a man to the Moon. This, combined with the associated proliferation of data, enables our devices to get “smarter,” as well as to make select information available to more centralized applications (such as Uber or Instacart) in a more efficient way.
Edge computing during coronavirus
What does this mean for emergency situations like the current pandemic? In times of crisis, the systems on which we depend are closely examined. Dangers test our preparedness, our ability to improvise and our capacity to act and think locally. Globalization through technology over the past few decades has led to an unprecedented level of interconnectivity, but with it has come a vast and complex chain of dependencies. The locus of control is unclear, and often too far from where the crisis occurs. A shock…