Smart cities have become an increasingly hot topic as urban planners, and tech companies contemplate how we will live in the future. Although numerous different visions have been proposed, one common denominator is that the cities of the future will be highly reliant on internet connectivity. This will help power elements like AI and cloud computing, which in turn will enable smart cities to be powered, administered and accessed far more efficiently.
As 5G is rolled out around the world, the possibility of AI-powered smart cities grows increasingly likely. The increased speed of 5G in comparison to previous generations will theoretically have the potential to enable improvements through our day-to-day lives — faster commutes, thanks to AI-powered traffic lights and routing systems; cleaner air thanks to automatic detection of issues with air quality, more eco-friendly public lighting more efficient remote working thanks to better internet access.
So if you’re ready to catapult yourself into the future, now’s the time to learn about how cities with 5G could transform the way we live.
Between 2002 and 2017, the number of people spending more than two hours per day commuting increased by 18%. The reasons for an increase in commute times vary due to a number of factors, but there’s no question it’s also due to the number of people using roads and public transport at the same time.
5G smart cities are likely to benefit from ongoing service and road use monitoring that happens in real-time. Cameras, drones, and sensors may have the potential to relay information during peak periods. With the right information, roads and public transport systems can respond to peak periods in a way that reduces commute times.
Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses throughout the country have been required to increase remote working for safety purposes. According to The Guardian, around 20% of businesses had staff working from home before the pandemic. After the pandemic kicked in, this number rose to over 40%. And while the pandemic is experiencing positive downward trends, not everyone is in a rush to return to the office. Instead, they want to continue with the remote working network that keeps them safe and cuts out unnecessary commutes.
While remote working comes with benefits, it also presents challenges. Internet connectivity still presents a major challenge for many employees, depending on their location, surrounding environment and building type. However, faster and more stable internet connectivity ensures that employees are able to connect with one another far more efficiently — when there’s less risk of dropping out, it’s far easier to meet online and collaborate with one another. The importance of 5G rapidly becomes evident when it’s viewed through a wider business lens.
Another way smart cities can transform daily living is through improved air quality. With an increase in vehicles and people throughout Australia, it stands to reason that air quality could worsen. At present, cities such as Barcelona have air quality monitoring stations, but they’re bulky and take up a lot of room. One way that 5G could change this in smart cities is through greater support of the Internet of Things (IoT). Using IoT, it’s possible to mount sensors in existing structures, such as lamp posts
Lighting is a key part of city life. In addition to helping you find your way around at night, it keeps you safe. Too much light pollution can also have consequences on the surrounding environment.
Smart street lighting responds to the footfall in the area rather than constantly emitting light. As a result, the lighting becomes more energyefficient and has lower operating costs. Realtime feedback of conditions also takes place, which then allows the lighting’s operation centre to adjust the brightness accordingly. With the use of movement detection data, city planners can also plan lighting in a more efficient and dweller-friendly way.
Today, many electric car charging networks depend on a combination of 4G and Wi-Fi. Both solutions can meet the demands of current electric car fleets. However, they do come with slow speeds and latency of communication. As electric cars are growing in popularity and some areas are aiming for 50% electrical vehicle usage by 2030, an improved solution is needed to make charging more accessible.
With the use of 5G charging networks, it may be possible to significantly reduce electric vehicle charging latency. This type of technology can also be used to improve charging through feedback. For example, when a series of cars are charging simultaneously using the same station, the feedback from 5G can encourage the charger to prioritise those vehicles with the lowest charge.
Delays in charger communication should also decrease significantly. While such delays may only last a few seconds per vehicle, that can soon add up and result in less overall charging efficiency over time. With every few-second delay saved, charging stations can become significantly more efficient.
Few forms of road-based technology sound more futuristic than a self-driving car. However, autonomous vehicles are now here, and there’s a chance that every 5G city in the world will see one in the near future. Autonomous cars make decisions independently of their drivers.
You can also use apps to improve the way cars interact with each other and the road systems they operate on. For example, cars will be able to absorb real-time information on which routes are fastest so that they can respond and cut down commute times. They’ll also receive data on adverse weather conditions, such as fog, and heavy rain. When that weather data comes in, the car can adjust its approach to make its journey as safe as possible.
As technologies advance, it’s likely that 5G will help self-driving cars to communicate with each other to make driving even safer still.
City life can be both invigorating and challenging. One of the biggest challenges comes with keeping yourself safe. With the use of 5G, local governments will be able to level up city safety features.
Using vast amounts of CCTV captured throughout cities, local planners can introduce safety features that make living in one reassuring. For example:
A rapid and in-depth analysis of CCTV imaging can make it easier to track missing persons. This can prove especially useful in missing children cases, where every second really does count.
Ongoing traffic flow and street usage analysis can make it easier to plan events. Using data obtained through CCTV imaging, organisers can identify which roads to close and place security on for the sake of everyone’s safety. An analysis of cycling traffic trends can make it easier for road planners to map out where cycling lanes should be placed. As a result, there are more opportunities for people to ditch cars and make the air in their locale cleaner.
Thanks to fast mobile connectivity, those who are living in smart cities should enjoy greater access to telemedicine services, Telemedicine allows you to liaise with a doctor or another medical professional from a distance. It moves beyond everyday phone conversations to include high-resolution video imaging that allows the clinician to assess your appearance.
Some forms of technology, such as Tempus machines, allow for the remote monitoring of blood pressure, blood sugar levels, oxygen saturation, and more. As 5G begins to grow, such technologies could become more commonplace in smart cities.
One of the greatest advantages of more telemedicine is that you potentially won’t lose as many working hours. It’s easier to schedule an appointment around your schedule, and as you don’t need to travel to a health centre, you won’t reduce your productivity. It also has the potential to make medicine more accessible if you have mobility issues. While telemedicine won’t replace face-to-face appointments entirely, it will likely lower the number of times you need to travel to see a doctor.
Police services, fire services, and ambulances may all be able to benefit from the power of 5G. At present, most emergency responders rely on verbal reports to triage which incident they respond to first. While they may receive some ad-hoc visual input from those who are reporting problems, such input isn’t routine. With 5G smart cities, this may change.
When it comes to a medical incident, for example, ambulances equipped with 5G may potentially respond to the cues of traffic lights and surrounding vehicles. In theory, this could make it easier for them to access their patients in a timely fashion.
Similarly, police who are responding to multiple crimes can swiftly pull data from relevant CCTV cameras. In some instances, cameras may be equipped with gunshot detectors so police responses can be triggered before a crime victim needs to call them. With faster responses, emergency services may be able to work in a more efficient manner
City living can be expensive. Real estate is often a finite resource, making it difficult to find the right property within your budget. With 5G smart cities, real estate may potentially become more economically friendly by becoming more user-friendly.
As 5G connects with IoT, its availability throughout smart cities means that buildings have the potential to be developed, so they are more responsive to their users’ needs. For example, motion detectors can trigger when heating, air conditioning, and lighting kick in. This means that energy is only used when someone is physically present.
Those same motion detectors can send feedback to smart devices, which then allows those devices to refine their behaviour depending on what the building’s occupants are doing. These features don’t just apply to residential properties; they’ll become common for businesses too. Overall, both home life and working life can become more efficient.
One day in the potentially not too distant future, Australian smart cities will transform the way we all live forever. From safer streets and cleaner air to smoother commutes and working from home, city living is set to become more comfortable and efficient.
Vodafone’s 5G Network is progressively being rolled out to selected parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth. 5G approved device required, with an eligible Vodafone plan, in a Vodafone 5G Coverage area to access the 5G Network. In non-5G coverage areas, you’ll automatically switch to our 4G networks. Actual speeds vary due to location & network congestion. Check coverage and for updates when 5G is coming to your area on our 5G network support page.