While technology reliance and innovation has been increasing in all sectors, the increase in technological capabilities for cities is an exciting new frontier—all thanks to 5G wireless technology.
What Does Being a Smart City Entail?
5G wireless technology is transforming wireless network infrastructure with small-cell networks employing 5G speeds. Full potential of economic growth and cost savings (as outlined below) depends on how the infrastructure upgrades are deployed in cities. Network deployment of 5G small-cell networks will involve 10 – 100 times more antenna locations than 4G or 3G currently require. These cells are about the size of a show box and are critical for delivering the network speed and capacity and supporting the expected increase in even more devices connecting in the future.
How 5G Can Transform a City
Smart Cities, when fully deployed, can see benefits across many sectors in the municipality, including:
- Energy & Utilities – 5G connections can allow accurately monitoring and forecasting energy needs. With smart grid technology, demand-side management can support load balancing to help reduce electricity peaks, minimize down times, and reduce energy costs. Smart lighting is another technique in practice that dims public lighting when no pedestrian or vehicles are present, helping save power and reduce light pollution (San Diego is expected to save an estimated $1.9 million annually from these street light installations).
- Public Safety – Technological innovations in this segment is just at the forefront of what is possible, but some Smart Cities are able to generate detailed, real-time location-based information on firearm discharges (San Francisco has this) or real-time video that assess a scene before first responders arrive (Chicago). Pole-by-pole deployment of 5G could allow responders to use facial recognition to identify known criminals or spot missing person before arriving on the scene. Other potential deployments could include emergency warning systems, such as life-saving tornado or flood alerts or traffic rerouting.
- Public Transportation – Rider wait time can be reduced and bus inventory can be optimized with minute-by-minute information on number of users riding the system and estimating who intends to use the system at a specific time which can allow for dynamic bus routing.
- Traffic & Commuting – With 5G’s ultra-fast speeds, traffic congestion could be reduced by 40% by increasing road vehicle capacity through “convoying” cars into groups. This can also provide substantial energy savings for your residents for their vehicle and energy costs (in addition to the less qualitative, but equally important productive and quality of life improvements).
- Public Parking – Low-cost 5G sensors on street lamps could indicate available on-street parking spaces. In already deployed areas, this technology has helped increase parking revenue by 27% while also reducing congestion and idling in popular spots.
Cost Savings & Economic Impact of Smart Cities
Research has shown that when municipalities (of varying sizes) make the switch to become a Smart City, there can be many benefits. Financially, Smart City solutions applied to the management of vehicle traffic and electrical grids can produce $160 billion in benefits (nationwide) through the reduction in:
- Energy use
- Traffic congestion
- Fuel costs
Since Smart Cities are able to use technology to reduce commute time, public safety and energy efficiency can increase.
It’s also forecasted that Smart Cities could have a substantial economic impact as well, including:
- $275 billion invested
- 3 million jobs created
- $500 billion GDP growth predicted
Research has also shown that cities of all sizes can benefit from the infrastructure upgrades of becoming a Smart City, whether the population is 90,000 or 9 million. Small to medium-sized cities with a population of 30,000 – 100,000 can expect to see 300 to 1,000 jobs created; larger cities can expect to see as many as 90,000 jobs created.
Broader Economic Impacts of 5G
In addition to the more immediate economic impact from the deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure in cities across the nation, there are also more long-term benefits to the economy that this innovation can bring.
Even More Jobs – While deployments in individual cities will create new jobs, the technology will also bring on new industries and increased investment in to different sectors, which continues to create new jobs in the Smart Cities.
Staying Competitive – Smart Cities are expected to stay more competitive when it comes to bringing in new business and retaining residents. A more competitive workforce can turn in to attract higher-paying jobs in these communities.
Access to Wireless – While it might seem that a wireless connect is available every place you go (from your local coffee shop to work to even some cars), Smart Cities can help bridge the gap and bring high-speed broadband internet access to the 5% of Americans who currently do not have access.
The Path to Smart Cities Located Across the U.S.
The biggest barriers for a city to become a Smart City are the cost for the 5G deployment and the understanding that such upgrades should be made to keep their municipality competitive. By facilitating 5G infrastructure deployment, municipal leaders can make their communities more efficient, safe, affordable, and attractive to business and citizens alike.