How the National Museum of China is using 5G to save the past

By GovInsider

Here’s how 5G can create customised environments to protect artefacts, improve visitor experience and ensure the security of the museum.

The National Museum of China wants to become smarter. With more than 6,000 relics on display, the museum is China’s grandest and most popular museum. And like every other part of the country, it is eager to jump in on the tech revolution.

“The museum produces huge amounts of data each day”, shared Li Huabiao, Director of Data Management and Analysis Centre of the Museum at Huawei’s Asia-Pacific Innovation Day 2019. “The amount of data gathered in one month now exceeds a year's worth of data in the past.”. The museum is determined to make the most of this to better preserve culture.

Here are three ways the National Museum of China is using 5G-enabled technology to better its services.

1. “Personalised” environments for cultural relics

Museums have the important role of preserving artefacts so that culture can be passed down from generation to generation. But problems like understaffing and laborious maintenance processes can make that process tougher than necessary.

The museum is now monitoring artefacts in real time using IoT technology. The warehouses where the relics are stored are constantly monitored for their humidity, temperature and the presence of hazardous substances in the air.

The smart system is able to regulate these parameters to create the best environment for preserving each of the relics. “Different types of artefacts require different environments,” explained Li. The museum uses RFID technology to collect data about the artefacts’ environments automatically. IoT then dispatches warnings to the staff if there are any abnormalities that need to be addressed in person. 5G networks mean that large volumes of such data can be transmitted instantly.

2. Improving visitor experience

Creating a comfortable and seamless visitor experience has to be a priority for a museum that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, from within China and around the world.

The museum has engaged the help of Huawei’s 5G technology to implement ICT infrastructure and smart devices, all so the museum can “proactively identify customers’ needs”, Li told GovInsider. Elevators, car parks, lighting, temperature, humidity, air quality and background music are just some of the elements the museum pays attention to in curating a comfortable viewing environment for visitors. The museum also monitors crowds and recommends the optimal route for visitors so they get the most out of their time spent there.

The museum is no longer limited by physical space as it launches more virtual exhibits. It can put up more exhibits and display each exhibit for a longer period of time, so visitors can see more. It is also exploring putting up 360 degrees and 4D exhibits using AR and VR technologies, to provide visitors with a more immersive and interactive experience.

In addition, it constantly keeps track of safety facilities, such as fire-fighting equipment rooms and evacuation routes, so response teams are able to respond quickly in the case of an emergency. All this is done while ensuring energy usage is optimised. It uses data to monitor power demand and regulate electricity supply in targeted areas.

3. Museum security

Security is an important issue when thousands of invaluable cultural relics are gathered in one place. One of the greatest security threats in today’s digital world is illegal hacking, and digital artefacts no exception to this. The museum has installed electronic fences around exhibits that are at risk of hacking. When the system detects a hacking attempt, it alerts security personnel immediately of the location of the hack. The staff can then respond to the threat with minimal delays.

Theft of artefacts is also a concern. The museum uses facial recognition technology across its grounds to ensure that “suspects have no hiding place”, said Li. Huawei-powered, 5G-enabled live broadcasting allows staff to monitor the museum and look out for suspicious persons.

5G-enabled data collection and analysis has helped the National Museum of China to better preserve and protect cultural relics, create a better visitor experience and ensure the security of its artefacts. Next stop? Increasing the efficiency of administrative matters. Li is looking into building mobile offices and using AI to smoothen printing and report-signing processes.

The museum is an important guard for China’s rich history, and it is looking to the future to preserve the country’s 5000-year old cultural heritage.