Tagged: Telecommunications

IEEE CQR 2019: 5G in Context

IEEE CQR 2019 Banner


ComSoc CQR 2019 – @ieeecqr #cqr2019

I would first like to thank IEEE CQR , Communications Quality & Reliability, and all participants attending this year’s event for the opportunity to chair the conference’s opening session, which focused on 5G capabilities in the areas of small-cell densification, millimeter wave backhauling, and end-to-end security in multivendor environments.

I am also glad about having joined a second executive panel discussion (also on 5G) as one of three speakers, sharing the stage with Verizon’s Abby Knowles, VP of Network & Technology, and Deutsche Telekom – MobileedgeX‘s Geoff Hollingworth, Chief Marketing Officer.

IEEE CQR 2019 Twitter Feed.jpg

This was my 6th IEEE CQR conference since 2012, which I first attended as speaker for a Distinguished Expert panel discussion led by IIT’s Carol Davids, Director of the Real Time Communications Lab at the School of Applied Technology. Seven years have passed since that early engagement, which makes one reflect on what Communications and Quality entail in this year’s context.

This time around, in my opening remarks I outlined the nature of today’s human-to-human, machine-to-machine and human-machine communications. I also referred to Juran’s classic, “Quality by Design,” and his reference to Big Q and Little Q: the former refers to quality as value in the context of the user experience, while the later focuses on industrialization quality… conformance to standards just being “one of the many means to that end,” but not only.

From a Design Thinking perspective, the quality of 5G’s Human Experience is coupled with Technical Feasibility and Business Viability. Delivering quality experiences that make a substantial difference (when compared to either alternative and/or earlier generations of mobile technologies) becomes a top and critical success factor.

This is true across consumer and enterprise markets. And we shouldn’t forget the need for taking down the digital divide: gaps in digital literacy become inequalities undermining our communities’ prosperity and quality of life.

5G’s Technical Feasibility goes beyond radio technologies to include: data science, cloud systems, virtualization, software defined tools & systems, and distributed architectures that entail microservices… as well as centralization optimizing for cost efficiencies and distributed edge resources optimizing for effective service delivery… just to name some of the technical matters under consideration in 5G’s ecosystem.

5G’s Business Viability calls for new business models that reshape and transform the value chain in users’ best interest… so that 5G can actually thrive. That undoubtedly prompts more attention to Human Centered Design (HCD) in telecoms, this being the very same sector that pioneered Human Factors Engineering (HFE) in industry and coined “Designing for People” all the way back in the mid 1940s.

IEEE CQR Session ChairLast but not least, I need to express my appreciation to segment and session chairs Bob Lesnewich and Kelly Krick for all of their support and tireless work before and during the conference.

Thanks to Chris Mayer, Technical Committee Vice Chair,  Jason Boswell and Pasi Hurri, conference co-chairs. The talent and experience that IEEE CQR manages to rally makes this be a premier industry event year after year.

IEEE CommSoc CQR 2019 – @ieeecqr #cqr2019


Human Factors Engineering: leveraging the Internet of Things and Mobile Sensing Networks with Big Data and Social Analytics

“The ultimate test of a practical theory, of course, is whether or not it can be used to build working systems. It is good enough to use in the real world? […] Almost uniquely among the social sciences, this new social physics framework provides quantitative results at scales ranging from small groups, to companies, to cities, and even to entire societies […] it provides people –e.g., government and industry leaders, academics, and average citizens- a language that is better than the old vocabulary of markets and classes, capital and production […] the engine that drives social physics is big data: the newly ubiquitous digital data now available about all aspects of human life. Social physics functions by analyzing patterns of human experience and idea exchange.”Social Physics by Alex Pentland.


Back in 2010 I worked on the Amazing Learning Unit, a research project leading to a proof of concept demonstration. The anecdote behind it’s name was that by calling it A.L.U. we played with the fact that those same three letters formed Alcatel-Lucent’s stock ticker. On a more serious note, we partnered with Lego and the Illinois Math & Science Academy (IMSA) to unveil a simulation at Mobile World Congress in 2011, which was very well received.

The Amazing Learning Unit’s concept entailed “Lego robotics” equipped with Touchatag’s RFID readers and Android phones and tablets. As you can see in the above picture, these “mobile units” were designed to look, behave and roam around like autonomous screens, cameras and sensors with wheels.

Driven by human factors engineering principles, the thinking behind the project was centered not on technology, but on taking down the classroom’s physical walls, which can make today’s schools and school districts behave like “geofenced silos”. This is an environment that can constrain kids’ exposure to an outside world that’s growing more connected and diverse. The project’s main goal was to enable boundariless collaborative learning, our technologies being the means to that end.

The concept called for the robots to roam around the classroom and sense what a kid was playing with, or what book she/he was reading. Classroom’s objects and books would feature the Touchatag’s stickers to that end. The result is a mobile sensing network that falls in the IoT, Internet of Things, category.

Leveraging social analytics, we thought of a “serendipity engine” which would then connect the kid with another child from any other school who would be engaged in a similar activity, and whose skill and learning behaviors happened to be a good match for them to play together. The smartphone screens would prompt interactive online activities jointly with video calls engaging them in context-aware and “peer-to-peer collaborative learning”.

We discussed what’s now known as collaborative filtering and matchmaking options to promote role model behaviors and how to adequately display them to help realize everyone’s potential, and to do so in everyone’s best interest. We also looked into sensitive matters centered on behavioral analytics, privacy and the pros and cons of emotional and persuasive design features.

As part of the project’s research, gamification techniques were thought out to incentivize players, such as competitive challenges, progressive skill levels, in-game rewards and scoreboards. Circling back with a recent post on working with personas, the ones created for this project were modeled after our own children and my kid inspired and enjoyed participating in the project’s living lab.

The prototype unveiled at Mobile World Congress showcased some of the above concepts. It is worth sharing that the business goal was to help experience some as complex as the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) in a new and radically light back in 2010. I strived to humanize what can otherwise come across as overlay technical and rather obscure sets of technologies behind network infrastructure, platforms and telecommunication services, the essence of our company’s product portfolio. Therefore, we purposely placed the emphasis on creating new experiences such as the one delivered by the Amazing Learning Unit. Our inventiveness and technologies became transparent and were in place to deliver the magic.

Interestingly enough, this research project led to discussions with MIT and a leading global network operator. That time around, we looked at how this kind of experiences can be applied in enterprise environments to raise productivity and foster collaborative and multi-disciplinary workstyles. Enabling new organizational and decision making cultures in other words. The following phase of the research was titled Immersive Mobile Systems, IMS in short : )

Lean Ops Videos

Here is a selection of five Lean Ops video clips. There are a few other out there, which range from 60 to 90 minutes.

VIDEO #1  3 min intro
Mobile World Congress 
Barcelona, March 2016

VIDEO #2   17 min live session
Mobile World Congress
Barcelona, March 2016


VIDEO #3  12 min intro 
Mobile World Congress
Barcelona, March 2015


VIDEO #4   19 min live session 
Intel Developers Forum
San Francisco, August 2015


5 min interview 
this link is no longer active
Nokia Cloud Innovation Center
Naperville, October 2011


Please go to Nokia’s Network Functions Virtualization and Lean Ops pages for more information.