- The relationship between 5G and smart cities
- Public utilities
5G is the next big thing in wireless technology. It’s a massive project that aims to replace the entire existing internet infrastructure with one that is deemed to have lower energy consumption and maintenance costs. Just by this short definition alone, it could be enough for stakeholders to take interest in the technology.
But what does the whole 5G infrastructure have in store for everyone? What is its direct effect on citizens?
<h2id="5gandsmartcities">The relationship between 5G and smart cities
Among the benefits expected from 5G architecture is the potential of building or improving current emerging smart cities all over the world. In Australia alone, there are already a number of localities that have started working with telcos to create their own version of smart cities. Perhaps first on the list was Gold Coast when it agreed to be a testing centre for Telstra in 2018.
If you are having a hard time picturing a smart city using 5G technology, think of it as a smart home where the Internet of Things is fully utilised, but on a much bigger scale and with significantly faster connectivity. It’s having the technology integrated into all possible sectors such as transportation, communications, health care, public utilities, and a whole lot more.
Once the 5G wireless technology becomes fully operational in Australia and the rest of the world, there would be no limits to its potential and capability. However, based on what is so far known about its architecture, there are certain sectors that could really benefit from it, especially if you consider the number of smart city projects the world over.
What city does not have a decent transportation system, right? It’s one of the most important indicators of a moving economy, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be improved at all. Enter 5G and you get driverless cars on the road that do not necessarily put pedestrians in grave danger. It also paves the way for better traffic control networks and monitoring systems, such as parking meters and traffic congestion.
As a matter of fact, Telstra did something similar during its Southport trial, where the telco giant put its first-ever 5G-connected vehicle on the road.
A shift is also expected in the communications sector, although not in the sense that the current system will be replaced by something that is faster and more efficient. It’s not like mobile calls and text messaging causing the extinction of fax and telegrams. Rather, it is believed to focus more on sustainability over the long term, hence the interest in low energy consumption and maintenance costs.
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Low-latency connectivity could be very useful in islands and rural areas, especially in improving their access to better health care. Telemedicine could be the new norm, where patients could simply connect with their care providers via video conferencing apps. This could also lessen the need for people to relocate to bigger cities, thereby preventing congestion in some parts of the country.
It’s not just the telecommunications sector that is going to harvest benefits from 5G. Electric grids and water networks could also use some improvement in their generation and distribution costs, as well as allow them to lay down a more efficient operating system. In return, this could reduce the charges on customers and possibly lead to lower utility bills in the near future.
We all know that science is a broad field and it’s not only limited to communications and automotive industries. There are other fields that could also benefit greatly from the arrival of 5G’s wireless connection and Telstra proves it is in the thick of things.
In the city of Melbourne, the company also launched several testbeds that aim to explore potential 5G applications on local air quality, local rainfall levels, local wind speed, rubbish bin fill levels, pedestrian counting, as well as humidity and temperature of various tree species.
The dangers of 5G in smart cities
Of course, there are always going to be risks for new forms of technology, especially when it’s being explored to build smart cities. Developers cannot simply eradicate the public’s concerns with regard to their personal information by saying they promise not to misuse or sell their consumers’ personal data to other parties.
The key is in proper management and supervision not only on the part of the developers but also on the local and national governments. Everyone should be in agreement that no technological advancement is worth endangering the safety of the citizens.