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IoT-based Management and Monitoring System for 5G Electromagnetic Fields

With the introduction of 5G, global attention on electromagnetic field (EMF) safety has greatly increased. As such, the “IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measuring equipment” has been developed steadily to measure EMF 24/7/365 while extending EMF measurement to the entire living environment. An “EMF monitoring system” has also been deployed to manage EMF in real time. In so doing, the system has contributed to the building of an EMF-free country while relieving public anxiety over EMF.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Global attention on EMF safety has increased further as diverse technologies utilizing radio waves have permeated into every aspect of daily life with the arrival of the Hyper-connected 5G era.

In particular, 5G frequencies have the property of strong straight motion and short reaching distance. Therefore, the related 5G mobile network requires five times more base stations than 4G (LTE). As the amount of EMF to which human beings are exposed has increased because the base stations are installed close to the ground, public concern over the harmfulness of EMF has increased, sparking controversy over the diseases caused by EMF.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged in 2007 that EMF may cause leukaemia and announced in 2011 that mobile phone EMF is a Group 2B carcinogen, interest in the effects of EMF on the human body has increased in all countries.
With radio waves permeating into every area of our daily life, the targets of EMF management have increased significantly to densely populated areas (residential/office areas, etc.), public use facilities (subway stations, airports, etc.), and living environment facilities used by the vulnerable classes (schools, hospitals, etc.), as well as the areas surrounding mobile network base stations. Nonetheless, the shortage of specialist personnel and the high cost of measuring equipment (approx. USD 40,000 per unit) have emerged as obstacles to the spread of EMF management across the country.

To resolve this issue, the Korea Communications Agency (KCA) has explored items for improvement from the perspective of the general people as well as experts including university professors by organising the EMF Citizens' Group and KCA Innovation Team.

Using its EMF management know-how in collaboration with the EMF Advisory Committee composed of EMF specialists, KCA has ① developed the “IoT-based, Unmanned Remote EMF Measuring Equipment” for the first time in the world, ② deployed the “EMF Monitoring System” for the real-time management of EMF, ③ disclosed its EMF measurement data through its “EMF Safety Map,” and ④ operated the “EMF patrol car” in order to resolve EMF issues promptly.

① KCA has installed a compact (13cm), lightweight (200g), and inexpensive (USD300) “IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measuring equipment“ - which it has developed by converging its source technology for EMF measurement with the manufacturing technologies of a small/medium enterprise (SME) - at key locations throughout the country.
② EMF data measured 24/7/365 are automatically transmitted through a mobile communication network and analyzed in real time by the “EMF monitoring system.“
③ EMF compliance information is disclosed in real time through a GIS-based “EMF Safety Map” (https://emf.kca.kr) that the public can understand easily.
④ The measured data are divided into Green Zone (14v/m or less), Yellow Zone (14~28v/m), and Red Zone (28v/m or higher) based on the limits of human exposure to EMF. When a Red Zone is reported, it can be promptly resolved by dispatching to the scene “EMF patrol cars” (mounted with EMF measurement and analysis equipment) that can precisely measure and analyze EMF again.

Before the introduction of this innovation, only one-time visit measurement was conducted selectively at base stations or in places where there was a request for measurement. As EMF is now being remotely measured in real time in multiple areas on a steady basis through the innovation of the EMF measurement and management scheme, the reliability of the measured data has been greatly enhanced. Since the efficiency of the EMF management service has increased by over 30 times, a safe environment free from EMF hazards has been established, allowing all citizens to live safely without the risk of EMF.

The results of a survey on the public awareness of EMF safety showed that public anxiety over EMF has been relieved considerably. The survey compared public concern before and after the innovative service, including EMF measurement and management 24/7/365, real-time disclosure of measured data, and speedy response system.
* Before the service: 40.6 points → After the service: 90.5 points (The closer it is to 100 points, the less the public anxiety over EMF)

In the pilot project, the service was provided to children’s day care centres and kindergartens because infants and children are more vulnerable to EMF. It is also currently being operated at airports and other public use facilities and will be gradually expanded to all living areas throughout the country.

Therefore, KCA wishes to contribute to the realisation of a safe, clean environment in the global community by sharing this case of innovation in the field of EMF measurement and management with the OECD. In addition, KCA is going to create new markets by applying EMF measuring equipment to diverse fields like fine dust measurement equipment, AI speakers, etc.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The “IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measurement and management system” is the world’s first innovative system for managing EMF using ICT technology for the following reasons:
1) For easy installation and mass production, KCA developed EMF measuring equipment that is compact (13cm), lightweight (200g), and inexpensive (USD 300). It has significantly improved the measurement method from manual visiting measurement to unmanned remote measurement and from one-time measurement to constant measurement 24/7/365.
2) To immediately resolve the EMF problem, which is an emergency situation that occurs when the limits for human exposure to EMF are exceeded, KCA has deployed a monitoring system connecting to wireless networks and operating an EMF patrol car.
3) Thanks to all these efforts, the reliability of EMF measurement could be improved, and the EMF service can be spread to the overall living environment; steady intensive measurement and management are also possible in EMF hazard areas.

What is the current status of your innovation?

The IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measurement and management system has been introduced preferentially to day care centres and kindergartens --  used by those who are most vulnerable to EMF -- and public libraries and government offices used by the residents under pilot implementation. Through the survey on the public awareness of EMF safety, public anxiety over EMF was confirmed to have been improved after their implementation in a given period.
Currently, KCA is expanding the service area even to airports and subway stations. In the future, it plans to implement the service in all living conditions to reduce EMF anxiety, including residential areas, offices, and other densely populated areas.
KCA plans to proliferate the service by adding fine dust filtering or other living utility functions to the EMF measurement equipment or incorporating the EMF measurement functions into diverse products, such as air cleaners and AI speakers.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

We have explored the problems, improvement areas and life-oriented management methods from the viewpoint of the citizens and experts together with the EMF Citizens' Group, consisting of university professors, school parents, etc. and the EMF Advisory Committee, composed of EMF specialists. A compact, lightweight, inexpensive EMF measuring equipment that can measure the EMF level was jointly developed by KCA which possesses EMF measurement know-how and Argos, a SME possessing manufacturing technology.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Infants and children who are vulnerable to EMF were the first beneficiaries as the system was applied to day care centers and kindergartens. Today, the system is installed at airport and subway stations, so citizens who use the facilities are also beneficiaries. When the service is extended to the entire living environment, including residential areas and other public facilities, all of the citizens will benefit.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The innovation of the EMF measurement and management system has enabled real-time, steady, unmanned remote measurement and management in various areas and has also enhanced the reliability of the measured data. The efficiency of the EMF measurement service has greatly improved by over 30 times.
As a result of an EMF safety perception survey that compared public perception before and after the service provided to facilities for infants and children who are vulnerable to EMF, public anxiety over the EMF hazard was confirmed to have been relieved.
* Before the service: 40.6 points → After the service: 90.5 points (The closer it is to 100 points, the less the public anxiety over EMF)
Public awareness of EMF safety will increase as the EMF blind spot will be removed when the EMF measurement service is expanded to all living environments, including densely populated areas, public-use facilities, and facilities used by classes vulnerable to EMF.

Challenges and Failures

The target areas for EMF measurement and management have increased significantly due to the explosive use of radio waves, including the introduction of 5G technology. It must be noted, however, that the lack of skilled personnel and expensive (USD 40,000 per unit) measurement equipment became a major barrier to the spread of EMF service throughout the living environment in a short period. It was also difficult to develop EMF measurement-related products as few participated in their development owing to its lack of commercial potential.
In response, KCA has set out to establish a transparent procedure with the aid of the EMF Citizens' Group and EMF Advisory Committee. Moreover, a compact, lightweight, inexpensive equipment that can measure EMF remotely and continuously was developed through collaboration between KCA and a small/medium enterprise (Argos).

Conditions for Success

Based on EMF management know-how and EMF measurement technology it accumulated for over 10 years, KCA has made steady efforts to develop EMF measurement methods using ICT technology to realize public safety as a core value of KCA.
KCA has formed a consensus on EMF safety based on the communication network deployed to diverse layers of stakeholders including citizens, experts, and university professors. KCA has come up with a life-oriented EMF measurement and management solution suitable for the 5G era.
In addition, the KCA president has personally presided over meetings to reinvent the idea of EMF safety measures. He also prepared various incentive plans for staff members who voluntarily participated. His plan involves mileage points and bonus scores in HR appraisal, citations, and overseas training to those who have made distinguished feats.

Replication

Global concern over EMF safety has increased as diverse technologies using radio waves have spread to all areas of daily life with the arrival of the 5G era. As the human body is exposed to more 5G frequencies, concerns over EMF hazard are expected to grow even more.
Thus, it is necessary to deploy globally an EMF-free environment by applying the innovations “IoT-based, unmanned remote measuring equipment” and “EMF monitoring system” developed by KCA in cooperation with OECD.
We also expect new markets to emerge when various living functions such as fine dust and odor measurement are added to the equipment or the EMF measurement function is incorporated into various products such as air purifiers and AI speakers.

Lessons Learned

The project could enhance the degree of public reliability, sensitivity, understanding, and satisfaction by deploying an “EMF monitoring system” that can manage EMF in real time with the world’s first “IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measuring equipment” developed.
1) Public reliability has been enhanced as the measuring method has been improved by continuous measurement 24/7/365 instead of one-time measurement.
2) Public sensitivity has been improved by expanding and managing the EMF measuring area, which ranges from the spot of the base station to the entire living environment.
3) Public understanding has been improved by presenting three visualized levels (Green, Yellow, Red meaning safe, alert, and danger, respectively) based on the standards for human body protection rather than mere numbers.
4) Public satisfaction has been enhanced since citizens and experts both participated in all procedures concerning exploring the EMF issues and ideas, making solutions, developing the equipment, and deploying the systems.

Anything Else?

1) KCA is the best known as the agency in Korea specializing in the radio wave field with 50 years’ experience. It has carried out EMF measurement and management services since 2007. KCA has also published academic papers on EMF in the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and made continued efforts for standardisation activities.
2) KCA recently filed a joint patent application (No. 10-2018-0125659) on the “IoT-based, unmanned remote EMF measuring equipment” - the core of this innovation - with Argos. The plan is to contribute to the development of local ICT industries through technology transfer.

Project Pitch

Year: 2018
Level of Government: Other

Status:

  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:

Date Published:

19 March 2021

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