As humans, we strive to lead a good quality of life and continue to innovate to make it better! According to the United Nations, “68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050.” With effective planning, meaningful design, relevant policies, and technology innovations, smart cities are envisioned to significantly improve the quality of life in urban areas. Many countries have already started developing smart cities. According to the IMD report, “Singapore, Helsinki, and Zurich have been ranked as the top smart cities in the world.”
Network connectivity is one of the cornerstones of current smart cities. Connectivity advancements introduced by the 5th generation of network technology are proving to be pivotal for these smart city projects, as they help add efficiency in the way smart cities function. 5G is designed to provide services with higher speed, higher reliability, and availability. This advancement in technology takes connectivity beyond device-to-device communication and extends the scope to include the exchange of information between people, process, and data, creating a better experience and opportunities for individuals, businesses, and society.
Per Cisco, “a smart city uses digital technology to connect, protect, and enhance the lives of urban citizens. IoT sensors, video cameras, social media, and other inputs act as a nervous system, providing the city operator and citizens with constant feedback so they can make informed decisions.”
Deloitte explains smart governance, smart industry, and smart living as core functions of a smart city.
Smart governance provides one-stop-shop smart government public services. Monitoring air quality and natural disasters help maintain a quality environment for the citizens. Automation and connected logistics enable smart transportation.
Smart industry entails smart power and connected smart machines, enabling virtual power grid maintenance, warehouse automation, and real-time tracking of goods.
Virtual treatment, virtual learning, and immersive home entertainment empower smart healthcare, smart education, and smart households, instituting robust smart living.
Improved wireless broadband and low latency are the core capabilities of 5G. With its Network Slicing feature, 5G allows applications to be configured with different levels of security and bandwidth in the same network, enabling millions of devices to be part of the same central network seamlessly. 5G powered Edge computing provides faster data processing and low latency by bringing computing power closer to the source for the best conceivable digital experience.
5G capabilities, combined with other advanced technologies, provide synergetic intelligence for the smart urban ecosystem.
Smart cities rely heavily on IoT enabled devices and sensors. Smart home security systems and smart appliances have now become part of our daily lives. 5G network advancements expand the internet of Things (IoT) to the Internet of Everything (IoE), where devices and consumer products are connected via the internet to share data and information. In technical terms, while IoT enables Device to Device communication, IoE expands to scope to people-to-machine and people-to-people communication. 5G enables the connectivity between smart terminals, smart mobile devices, and cameras, giving city operators access to accurate information in a timely manner. For example, companies such as Samsung are developing smart fitness devices that analyze exercise routines and health conditions and provide vital healthcare recommendations in real-time to prevent medical emergencies.
The massive volume of data produced by smart cities requires significant computing capacity. The smart city cloud functions as a storage and analysis system for the data used in everything from home kitchen appliances to manufacturer’s production lines. With 5G bandwidth, more data can be stored at a faster rate in the cloud, providing the capacity to connect more IoT devices to the cloud.
Smart cities demand secured information exchanges across various smart systems. Distributed ledger integrated with 5G can provide information authentication and identification management across the network, creating a safer urban life.
5G fulfills the demand of smart cities needing concurrent access to numerous intelligent devices. Through IoT devices and 5G advancements, AI models can collect larger volumes of data and insights for monitoring, analysis, and action.
Smart cities need the ability to process massive data every second for decision making. With higher bandwidth, 5G can enable massive data analysis and acquisition, fusion, and modeling with minimal latency for city operators and devices to make real-time decisions.
In addition to improving quality of life, 5G enabled smart cities are projected to save costs and lower natural resources consumption. This technology can cause a global shift to lower carbon emissions, optimize natural resource consumption, monitor natural disasters, and help prevent climate damage. Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Report “finds that bold climate action like these could deliver $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030.”
5G network advancements have the potential to accelerate smart city development. According to a prediction from Gartner, “worldwide 5G network infrastructure revenues will touch $4.2 billion this year, recording 89% year-over-year growth.” In the United States, smart city adoption is proliferating. Many cities in the United States have implemented smart city pilot projects. Washington DC implemented Smart Buildings “using open source tools to acquire energy and performance data from municipal buildings.” Peachtree Corners, Georgia, implemented smart transportation technologies for “connected and autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, and Ride-Hailing.” In the United States, 5G provider telco companies such as Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T are collaborating with government institutions on 5G enabled smart city projects. Verizon “has deployed smart community solutions in over 60 communities with implementations in Sacramento, Boston, and Washington, DC.”
Accelerating the adoption of 5G wireless network could take cities closer to being smart. 5G alone cannot drive the adoption of smart cities, but it can empower the cities to use data, sensors, and other smart devices to improve operations. To accelerate smart city adoption, city leaders must create policies that support rapid 5G deployment. 5G advancements present a crucial turning point in the evolution of smart cities. 5G’s ability to handle a massive volume of connections can create new economic growth opportunities and help combat the climate change crisis. 5G capabilities can transform smart cities into smarter cities.
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