The 5G Future of Smart Cities
The Future of Smart Cities with 5G
In this guest blog from Ralf Llanasas, technology writer and commentator, explores what the future of smart cities with 5G could look like – and how they could impact us all…
Smart cities: A reality in the making
Technology is an ever-evolving industry. With each evolution, new possibilities are brought to reality. Once a distant dream, smart cities are swiftly becoming a reality in countries and communities across the globe. The incessant advancements of science and technology coupled with innovative Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are swiftly making smart cities an inevitability.
Now, with the advent of 5G, societies across the globe are closer than ever to optimising everyday technology to fully realise true smart cities.
What exactly is a Smart City?
Essentially, smart cities are urban living areas that use technology to maximise resources with the end goal of reducing wastage. Smart cities function by improving the overall standard of living and communication between residents of the city and the officials who govern them.
The word “communication” is key to understanding just what a smart city is, and how it functions. With the aid of technological innovations such as the IoT, smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to keep devices, utilities, departments, and all other aspects of an urban area connected via the internet or a network of some sort, to improve communication between them and enhance quality of life.
Caption: Smart Cities are taking over the world. Built to optimise resources while improving the overall quality of life, governments and officials are now focusing on creating more smart cities.
How can 5G revolutionise smart cities?
The fifth generation of wireless technology (5G) is an innovation many years in the making. Now finally here, 5G is set to revolutionise the world as we know it. There are numerous benefits of the widespread availability of the network, including:
· Lightning-fast speeds
· Lower latency
· Increased bandwidth
· Increased network coverage
The wireless technology goes beyond benefiting mobile phone users in search of faster internet speeds on their phone plans, however. The advent of 5G networks will hasten the pace of smart cities’ development and overall functionality.
5G can revolutionise advancements in transportation.
Commuting of any sort – public transportation or an autonomous vehicle – is often a tedious process. Traffic jams and route delays mar the experience of simply travelling from one location to the other. The availability of 5G networks can restructure the transportation sector entirely.
5G will improve transportation through the sensors and various devices that it powers. In a smart city, sensors that provide real-time data on traffic situations can be placed at several locations throughout your route. By utilising such sensors, cities can spot major pain areas for commuters and work towards proffering solutions. Drivers could also be alerted of real-time congestion or accidents to avoid them entirely. With 5G, such communication between sensors becomes smoother and easier, given the technology’s low latency and fast speeds.
This change is already underway. The city of Shanghai has been able to build intelligent road networks using 5G and is expected to expand its coverage by up to 100 square kilometres by 2020.
5G networks will make smart cities smarter through better connectivity across devices – internet of things (IoT) – and real-time data processing/analytics.
Mass connectivity is a struggle for 4G/LTE networks. Often times, individuals in small, cramped areas struggle with connectivity. 5G networks will greatly improve the capacity of small cell networks which will, in turn, increase connectivity and the data generated.
5G networks will transmit data at exceptional speeds from the sensors across IoT networks. The smooth transmission of data from its source to analysing parties will not only improve real-time analytics, but shape the availability of information as we know it.
The conservation of energy – both renewable and non-renewable – is a global responsibility. 5G networks can aid smart cities in curbing the energy they spend, thereby improving the conditions of the planet.
By increasing connectivity across everyday network platforms, 5G networks can aid in reducing the overall energy utilised by residents of cities. The ability to tweak items such as traffic lights, elevator doors, and other devices that ‘always run’ can aid in conserving ample amounts of energy across the board, through the use of large sensors that detect human activity, providing power only when needed.
Can we expect any drawbacks?
Any new technology is bound to pose challenges and uncertainty to those seeking to adapt to it. 5G will be no different.
Perhaps the biggest drawback with 5G will be dispensing the necessary technology across the globe. Although available, the current percentage of cities that cater to 5G is quite small. It may take decades for cities to fully optimise for 5G functionality.
Much of what 5G networks are expected to do for the world is theoretical. There is no telling if, when applied, 5G networks will be as revolutionary as they are expected to be. On matters such as these, the only option we are left with is to wait and see how it all unfolds.