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In recent weeks you may have seen an uptick in discussions about bringing edge computing capabilities to rural America. Out in front of these conversations is KEA member Trilogy Networks, which has been spearheading the Rural Cloud Initiative (RCI), a coalition that seeks to bring together an ecosystem of technology innovators, wired and wireless service providers, infrastructure companies and application developers to extend the power of edge computing, particularly IoT and artificial intelligence, to underserved rural markets.

The RCI has come together at a perfect time, as the federal government begins to pour billions of dollars into rural infrastructure to protect our food supply, address the global food shortage, achieve energy independence and to ensure our nation’s security. This vital financial assistance will create edge innovation in partnership with the rural carriers, accelerating the availability of edge computing’s transformative solutions in rural America.

Trilogy Networks, along with other KEA members such as Vapor IO, Pluribus Networks and Alef Edge, are creating technology and software solutions to distribute the centralized cloud to some of the most remote rural areas in America. To make the RCI possible, rural carriers and other network partners are granting unprecedented access to their infrastructure for these edge initiatives. The RCI intends to deploy edge solutions that will ultimately cover 1.5 million square miles across rural America.

In its first phase, RCI will utilize edge computing and 5G public and private wireless networks to support precision agriculture with real-time data collected and acted upon from connected IoT devices on the farm. The ultimate goal is to double the crop output over the next few decades with no increase in land, water or cost. Ensuring the integrity and dramatically increasing the productivity of the United States food supply chain is a major objective of RCI and has become even more critical in the current pandemic environment.

“For precision agriculture to achieve the maximum potential, it’s imperative the edge be brought directly to the farm operation,” said George Woodward, CEO at Trilogy Networks and board member on the US Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force. “Partnering with telecom operators and innovation partners will enable the RCI to deliver the real-time business intelligence needed by America’s two million farmers.” By removing the complexity, cost, latency and risk associated with distributed cloud networking, we can deliver solutions that possess the specific requirements for highly distributed applications, such as precision agriculture, to succeed.

How and when will they begin rolling this out? “Watch this space” says Woodward, “we will unveil our plan later this month and, of course, the Kinetic Edge Alliance will be the first to know.”