How smart cities become smarter with 5G

How smart cities become smarter with 5G
Increasingly, 5G has become a popular topic, given its high bandwidth and speed. While it can bring great pleasure to users watching internet TV or movies, its real applications lie in various verticals, from manufacturing to transportation and ultimately to smart city.
 
5G is viewed with excitement and expectations due to the high speed and bandwidth it offers, providing up to 2 Gbps, compared to up to 100 mbps under the current standard of 4G. And the technology has become more and more of a reality as telco operators roll out 5G trial runs in certain cities across the globe.
 
Needless to say, 5G is good news for typical consumers who can now stream or download 4K-grade movies in a matter of seconds. However, deployment solely for the sake of consumer applications would be a waste of the bandwidth offered by 5G, whose real applications lie in various vertical markets.
 
In e-healthcare, for example, 5G improves telemedicine, allowing doctors to check upon patients remotely in real time. In manufacturing, videos of products can be transmitted instantly to a local server for processing and analysis for quality control purposes; a system detecting an approaching human worker can instantly shut down an operating robotic arm for safety.
 
Another area in which 5G can benefit users is smart city, which has become a popular phenomenon given the rapid pace of urbanization. A defining characteristic of smart city solutions is the communication between devices at the endpoint, edge and cloud levels, rendering transmission critical. As the current landline and 4G technologies have become quite limited, 5G can come in handy in this regard.
 
“Today, the existing connections for critical services are usually fiber, but the cost has made expansion an expensive proposition. Although people tend to focus on the higher speeds of 5G, the lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater density, and network slicing have major implications for the future of smart cities,” said a recent blogpost by Cisco.
 
The following are some of the ways in which smart cities can benefit from 5G.
 

Smarter transportation

 
Minimal latency enabled by 5G will allow instant communication between infrastructure devices as well as between cars and the infrastructure. Camera systems at intersections can count the number of vehicles and determine the status of the road at the time, and cause the traffic lights to adapt to the traffic condition automatically. V2V and V2I can also be enhanced, enabling cars to communicate with each other and with the road; drivers, then, can be informed of traffic conditions ahead or parking availability in the area.
 

First responder video

 
According to the Cisco post, the low latency of 5G has particular implications for video-as-a-sensor, which can be used to for crowd monitoring, asset utilization, parking space monitoring, traffic analysis, and pedestrian safety. “Currently, if officers go out of range from an access point they lose signal quality or connectivity. With 5G, a high-bandwidth connection and a secure uplink, video can turn into a real-time tactical feed,” it said.
 

Real-time surveillance

 
According to the post, 5G coupled with edge computing can significantly improve city surveillance by way of video. “Camera capacity is limited and there’s not enough bandwidth to backhaul so much video in real time. Because of this, video analysis is generally only used for historical and forensic purposes. The limitations in latency and reliability also prevent video from being used for safety purposes. However, the increase in edge computing resources with 5G will make it possible to perform analytics across multiple incidents. The lower latency and secure links through network slicing will be important when transporting critical real-time video,” it said.


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