As I discussed in my previous blog, 5G’s promise is not simply to make things faster, but to effect real change. More than simply the next step in the evolution of mobile connectivity, 5G’s special characteristics have the ability to unlock new services and business models; providing a platform for a far-reaching transformation of the role technology can play in society.
Getting there won’t be easy. The roll out of the infrastructure that 5G requires is complex and expensive. Collaboration between public and private sectors is going to be essential. At the national level, we’re already seeing national governments, such as the UK, pump-priming the industry. More locally, the need for significantly denser wireless infrastructure (large numbers of small cells within the urban fabric) will demand that telco operators and city government work closely together.
Delivering on the Autonomous promise
Autonomous vehicle technology may still seem futuristic, but the technology is developing at rapid pace. In Ottawa, we’re part of a testbed consortia to accelerate the safe deployment of AV’s (see here.) We expect these developments to be accelerated further when 5G becomes mainstream, as broadband multimedia streaming and high-volume transmission of sensor data will be possible over the same medium. This will enable non-line-of sight awareness, giving vehicles the ability to see, even across blind intersections and in hazardous weather conditions. Ultimately, this means citizens can travel from A-B safely, and as such we see 5G as an exponential enabler to large scale adoption of AVs’.
Transforming public safety
5G networks will also provide first responders with a more reliable and faster way to communicate and respond to emergencies. The increased number of sensors built into infrastructure will be able to communicate warning signs of imminent threats in real time to command and control centres. But the real game changer is the shift to real-time monitoring. 5G-enabled advanced video will take us from capturing incidents for use later, to genuine real time preventative capabilities for our emergency services. As cities increasingly come under threats, this gear change in communication could save lives.
Connecting community-based care
We think that 5G will increase the length of time people can stay at home, before needing to move into residential care. By using real-time monitoring and data flows that support advanced analytics, a trial in Liverpool is exploring how 5G can help address the needs of vulnerable and isolated people in this way. Much more cost-effective than residential care, monitoring and virtual services can help people to live independently and safely in their own homes. The problem? Those most in need are also least likely to be able to afford the broadband required. The solution? The City of Liverpool has invested in a 5G network to connect elderly and vulnerable people.
Closing the digital divide
The advent of every new technology opens the possibility for positive change. If 5G is to realise that promise it need to focus on helping close rather than widen the digital divide. And to do that means connecting governments, telco operators and citizens. It’s a combination that could benefit everyone, and mean that 5G delivers benefits commercially and to wider society.
How do you think 5G could most improve the lives of citizens? I’d love to hear from you about the transformational potential you see.
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