5G and the next-generation city
Powered and enabled by 5G, our future cities stand to get smarter, safer and more efficient
Apr. 23, 2019 | By Thomas Goddard
With the confluence of 5G, AI, altered reality (AR) and network virtualization functions (NVF), modern society is on the cusp of changing in ways futurologists have imagined for decades. Cities will become more efficient, safer, cleaner and with an enhanced standard of living for its citizenry. “Smart” will apply to power utilities, industries, education, healthcare/biomedicine and all other aspects of urban life.
It is estimated that two out of every three people are likely to be living in a city or urban center by 2050. But most cities aren’t built for this kind of growth. More people equates to more waste and more traffic congestion, not to mention a host of environmental impacts. Despite the array of issues, there is also a tremendous amount of opportunity with the fast-approaching 5G revolution. In fact, 5G technology will provide solutions to many of these sustainability issues.
Powered by the high speed and low latency of 5G connectivity, smart technologies have the potential to boost a city’s economy, encourage job growth, help the environment and offer modern conveniences for average citizens. Not only is 5G critical to autonomous vehicles and smart corridors (i.e., intermodal transportation systems), but it can also reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions—all while improving intersections and even parking, with data signals alerting drivers to vacant spots. Light poles will also get smart and learn the behaviors of citizens and tourists, while cities will also be able to detect trash volume and enable more efficient and timely removal. Through the data collected, communities will gain a better understanding of where to invest to make the biggest impact. Furthermore, 5G-enabled security sensors and devices promise to enhance public safety, improve utilities and even assist disaster management and emergency preparedness.
So, when will the full benefits of 5G be realized in your city? Geographic prioritization was one of the top five concerns that business and IT leaders associated with implementing 5G, according to our recent research. Smart cities are still in their infancy, but as 5G standards are being finalized, the wireless networks to support smart cities are evolving and will become available over the coming months and years.
What’s important to note is 5G is not just about latency, speed and connectivity. It’s also about who adopts it—and therefore, who can benefit from it. It behooves cities to apply for federal grants to support their transformation and stay in front of the technology landscape. Public and private partnerships will flourish in this new environment. As the 5G wireless networks will become the portals for the associated devices and applications, the wireless carriers become the backbone catalyst for this new era in communications and living. Each city can take control of its own destiny, partner with innovators and prepare for the evolving technology.
Right now, we’re just barely scratching the surface with what kind of difference 5G will make in cities. Just look at how much technology has crept into our day-to-day lives in this 4G and LTE world. From an evolutionary perspective, there is no telling how much 5G will impact our communities. Although it will take time before the value of smart cities is truly realized, it will certainly be exciting to watch the transformation.
A 5G future is coming. We surveyed more than 300 IT leaders to understand their thoughts and attitudes. Learn about how they’re preparing for 5G and what it could mean for your business.
Thomas Goddard is a solution architect within TEKsystems telecommunications services. He develops LTE and 5G wireless service solutions organically and by partnering with industry leaders. With over 30 years of experience, Thomas has been involved in the evolution of telecommunications networks from R&D, network deployment and technology sales perspectives.