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5G Smart Cities: The Impact of 5G Technology in Infrastructure and Planning
Smart cities are the talk of the town these days, thanks to the pandemic making it painfully obvious to most city planners that there is a need for more connectivity. Improvements are already being made, and it’s likely that 5G is going to be a big part of that. Is a 5G smart city coming to a zone near you?
At this point, 5G still isn’t available everywhere, which means it isn’t currently affecting the technology in most cities. However, there is still the need to plan for when it does roll out and that will have a big impact on which technologies will be chosen. Cities that are upgrading now need to be aware of the changes that this faster, better internet option will cause.
Roughly 55% of people around the world live in cities. That’s expected to reach 68% by 2050. This means a huge impact on the resources within the cities, as they expand to absorb new citizens. It’s just one of the reasons smart cities are picking up in popularity, so they can better manage their resources and the way they operate with the influx of people.
What Is a Smart City?
Most cities are run on fairly old technology that tells the lights when to turn, based on times, or that turn on the streetlights when the sunsets. Smart cities use sensors and data collected from vehicles, street sensors, and more in order to determine the most efficient time to turn on lights and when to change traffic lights, based on the actual traffic flow, rather than timing. They use the data collected to create more efficient traffic patterns and manage the overall operations of the city.
It’s possible to dim lights in a certain area of town if no one is around and only brighten them when someone walks or drives down the street. This immediately saves electricity and makes the city more energy-efficient. By conserving resources, using data collected from the city itself, it’s possible to turn any city into a smart city.
Everything from postal services to EMS can be made more efficient through the use of technology. With full connectivity, real-time information is always available to the decision-makers. This could range from current hospital capacity to traffic flow issues. It’s all right there and while humans do make the main decisions, artificial intelligence also plays a big part.
What About a 5G Smart City?
This is a new area that is just being explored now. 5G is still relatively new and most cities have not yet prepared for it. A recent report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that smart city tech investment around the world is expected to hit $135 billion this year. The main reason for that is 5G.
5G is supposed to be around 100 times faster than the existing 4G systems, with 25 times less lag. This means that more systems can be moved online. Consider autonomous cars, for example. Tesla’s self-driving vehicles have made a big splash recently and with 5G systems, they can be even more accurate. They also have the ability to learn faster, since uploads can be made in seconds.
In the case of self-driving cars, data is collected from all the cars throughout the day and then compiled into files for analysis. Machine learning determines where improvements can be made to help cars become safer and more intelligent. Then those updates are sent out to all the vehicles on the network. As you can imagine, this presents a very powerful opportunity.
Now, consider everything else that a city is doing. There are dozens of systems to keep up to date, including sewage, water processing, natural gas, street cleaning, garbage services, and many more. Each of these can benefit from 5G, if the cities plan ahead for it.
The Dangers of 5G
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to faster internet. 5G is ideal for many things, but it also means it’s more vulnerable than current technology. As a new option, it is bound to have some kinks that must be fixed and glitches to watch out for. This can be a major issue when data is being passed instantly through the pipelines.
Governments will need to ensure that their 5G tech is secure. The havoc that could be wreaked if someone were to hack the traffic system or a smart car, for example, is great. Even more dangerous is the fact that the information compiled from everyone in the city is stored on the cloud.
5G will help connect cities and will provide even more remote areas access. The performance will be considerably better, too. This also means that the entire system is potentially at risk from DDoS attacks or regular protocol weaknesses. If one area is down, many others could also be compromised.
What many people are considering is using hybrid authentication. This would use various methods to secure private information. It would also protect the 5G smart city’s systems from attack.
5G Smart City: The Way of the Future
There’s no doubt that technology is going to run our cities in the future. It’s already begun and with 5G, things will only speed up and improve. Overall, it’s likely that the infrastructure will have to change in order to fit in with the new technology, but it will also be a chance to improve cities in so many ways. It will be an excellent look at what humans are truly capable of when we try.
With the proper security precautions, 5G will have mostly good things to offer. Faster implementation of changes to the city’s technological structure and faster processing by the AI systems controlling everything. This means the end result will be a city that is better for everyone.